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Spacewalk sets stage for next Alpha addition

By Linda Saether
CNN Science & Technology

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Texas (CNN) -- Two astronauts readied the international space station Alpha for its next massive addition in a successful 5.5-hour spacewalk Saturday, as the station's new crew members worked behind the scenes unloading food, supplies and equipment onto their new home.

Performing their second spacewalk of the week-long mission, astronauts Daniel Barry and Patrick Forrester placed 11 handrails on the port and starboard sides of the station's Destiny module. Then the pair installed two electrical cables on either side of the module.

Astronaut Forrester described the 45-foot cables as "coming out like a wrapped fire hose."

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A few tight bolts and some close encounters of the extremities and space station kind were the only minor problems the two spacewalkers met with outside the shuttle.

The work sets the stage for the delivery of a large truss structure, scheduled for next spring. The 300-foot girder will serve as the backbone for the space station's external experiments and the future base for its Canadian-built robotic arm, according to NASA.

The spacewalk, which started at 9:42 a.m. EDT, ended at 3:11 p.m.

During the walk, Alpha's Expedition Three crew -- which took over from the space station's second crew on Monday -- stayed inside and continued unpacking the Leonardo cargo module. The module, brought along by the shuttle Discovery as a de facto moving van, contains supplies and laboratory equipment to be used on the station.

The crew plans to finish unloading the material and detach the cargo module from the station's Unity module on Sunday, returning it to Discovery's cargo bay so it can be returned to Earth.

Discovery lifted off on August 10 and is scheduled to return to Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday.

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