Second spacewalk done
Housekeeping chores continue
JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Texas (CNN) -- Two Discovery astronauts completed a spacewalk early Tuesday to do work on the international space station, which is docked with the space shuttle.
Mission Specialists Andrew Thomas and Paul Richards spent 6 hours, 21 minutes, working outside the two spacecraft. It was the mission's second and final spacewalk, or extra-vehicular activity in NASA lingo. It ended at 6:44 a.m. EST.
"This was a very successful EVA," Keith Johnson, NASA's lead EVA officer said Tuesday morning in a briefing at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Johnson said it was a busy spacewalk, with some chores added after launch, meaning the crew had not prepared in advance for those tasks.
"I'm very, very proud of the crew," Johnson said. "I think this is going to be more representative of what the EVAs are going to be like in the future where the crew is asked to do tasks that they haven't looked at extensively preflight."
Johnson said in the past, astronauts received extensive training on each spacewalk task, but crews working to build the space station increasingly are being called on to improvise.
"We're going to have to uplink pictures and messages and rely on the fact that they have skills-based training," he said.
Thomas and Richards hooked up cables to prepare the outside of space station Alpha for the arrival of a Canadian-built robot arm, which is scheduled to be delivered during the next shuttle mission in April.
They also installed a platform to stow spare parts and repaired part of the large solar array that supplies power to the space station, tapping on a balky locking pin to coax it into place.
Johnson said the astronauts were successful.
Flight engineer Susan Helms choreographed the spacewalk. Tuesday night, Helms offically becomes part of the space station crew. She will complete the crew exchange, joining Russian commander Yury Usachev and U.S. astronaut James Voss as members of the space station's Expedition Two crew.
Helms changes places with William Shepherd, the first commander of Alpha who becomes a member of the shuttle crew. His Russian crewmates for the past four months, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, already have moved to Discovery.
With the outside work completed, the two crews will focus on completing indoor chores. They are unloading the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, a $150 million Italian-built container full of experiments and supplies for Alpha. Earlier in the mission, the Discovery crew attached the module to Alpha for off-loading.
Leonardo will be filled with waste and other items from Alpha before it's unhooked and placed back in Discovery's cargo bay for return to Earth.
Including shuttle commander James Wetherbee and pilot James Kelly, there are 10 astronauts at work, the largest contingent yet for the space station.
Discovery will bring down seven of the crewmembers on March 20 in a 2:02 a.m. landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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