Alpha spacewalk installs crane
By Amanda Barnett and
(CNN) -- A roughly five-hour walk at the international space station ended on Monday with most of its goals achieved, according to NASA Mission Control in Houston, Texas.
Occasionally coping with a mild tangle of tethers, two Russian crew members of Station Alpha worked -- at what NASA terms "a leisurely pace" -- for an hour past their planned four-hour time limit, some 240 miles above Earth.
Their biggest task was the installation of a 40-foot cargo crane to be used in future walks outside Station Alpha. Installation went well, but the spacewalkers found themselves in darkness after the first four hours of the walk, and testing of the crane's rigidity, stability and durability is to come later.
As the originally planned conclusion of the walk approached at 2 p.m. EDT, Russian and NASA controllers said they felt comfortable letting pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin continue for an extra hour to finish the cargo crane's installation.
This was the first of three spacewalks expected to be made by the current "Expedition Three" crew currently aboard Station Alpha. The next, on October 15, is again to be made by Dezhurov and Tyurin. The third, on November 5, is to field Dezhurov and United States commander Frank Culbertson. In Monday's walk, Culbertson stayed inside and monitored the spacewalk.
Dezhurov and Tyurin on Monday attached practical hardware to the outside of the Zvezda service module. In this, the 100th spacewalk performed by Russian cosmonauts, the spacewalkers outfitted Pirs, the station's new Russian-built docking compartment. Quiet instructions were provided to the spacewalkers from Russian mission control personnel in cooperation with NASA, the United States' space agency.
Unlike their American counterparts, who work with rocket packs for maneuverability, the cosmonauts use tethers to hold them in place. This was the 27th walk being made in support of space-station assembly, Tyurin's first walk and Dezhurov's sixth (he was on the Mir in 1995).
The spacewalk began just minutes after its slated 10 a.m. EDT start. Dezhurov and Tyurin made their exits from Pirs and proceeded to switch over to their suits' life-support systems from station-based systems.
Their first effort was quickly hooking up a cable between the docking port and Zvezda. The cable provides telemetry and data transmission for Russian Orlan spacesuits. That portion of the walk was completed successfully, less than 50 minutes into the walk.
The spacewalkers went on to attach a handrail and 6-foot ladder to the outside of the unit, for use in future walks. They also closed two multilayer insulation blankets.
This was the first external spacewalk staged from Alpha without a space shuttle docked at the station. The spacewalk was concluded at roughly 3 p.m. EDT.
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Discovery brings home first Alpha crew
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