Spacewalk ends with all major objectives accomplished
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: February 15, 2008
Astronauts Rex Walheim and Stan Love completed a seven-hour 25-minute spacewalk today, installing two experiment packages on the space station's new Columbus research module and moving a faulty gyroscope back to the shuttle Atlantis for return to Earth.
With the primary objectives of the excursion successfully accomplished, the astronauts took a moment to carry out a "roughness test" on an astronaut handrail that runs around the Quest airlock's main hatch. Love reported during a spacewalk Monday that he had noticed a small crater, possibly due to impact with space debris, in the handrail.
Over the past several months, flight controllers have been concerned about small tears in the gloves used by spacewalkers, apparently caused by rubbing across a rough surface somewhere on the station. As a precaution, all spacewalking astronauts now pause periodically to inspect their gloves and wear bulky overgloves, when possible, as an additional precaution.
To find out if "Love crater" might be responsible for at least some of the previous glove damage, Walheim and Love rubbed an improvised tool across the damage site featuring a spare suit glove wrapped around a socket wrench.
Veteran spacewalker Jerry Ross, in mission control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, told Walheim to "draw it across the crater site to see if you're getting any significant snaring or tearing ... as you do it."
"I can feel a little bit of rough," Walheim reported. "It's not really grabbing or anything. It is rough. ... I can feel a little bit of snagging as it moves across, I think. Everything else is smooth until you get there."
But he said he could not see any noticeable damage to the glove material on the tool. He then pressed on the crater with his index finger, while wearing an overglove, but reported, "nothing, Jerry."
"OK, copy, you didn't see or necessarily feel much of anything?"
He then tried a variety of other techniques, rubbing various parts of the glove across the damage site but was unable to generate any noticable damage.
By the time they had finished the glove tests, the astroanuts were well beyond the planned six-and-a-half-hour duration planned for today's spacewalk. They decided earlier not to press ahead with a "get-ahead" inspection of the station's right side solar array rotary joint, a decision flight controllers seconded.
While the astronauts were mostly business as they worked through their flight plan, they paused a few times to marvel at the view.
"Now there's San Francisco, Oh!" Walheim exclaimed as the shuttle-station complex passed 210 miles above the California coast. "San Francisco, Monteray, all the way down to LA, up the state. I finally get to see San Francisco from EVA (a spacewalk). ... Wow, what a way to come over the West Coast. Oh my goodness!"
"Wow," Love said.
"Isn't that amazing?" Walheim exclaimed. "See the bridges? Berkeley? I can see San Carlos where I grew up. Absolutely amazing!"
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