Spacewalkers complete repair work on station arm
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: June 13, 2002
The new wrist joint installed on the international space station's $600 million robot arm today by spacewalkers Franklin Chang-Diaz and Philippe Perrin has passed an initial series of tests with flying colors. More tests are planned but so far, it appears the robot arm is fully functional and ready to support continued assembly of the space station.
Chang-Diaz and Perrin, meanwhile, returned to the station's Quest airlock module and began repressurizing at 6:33 p.m. to officially wrap up a seven-hour 17-minute spacewalk, the third and final excursion planned for the shuttle Endeavour's mission.
To celebrate, mission controllers beamed up a high-volume recording of the Eagles singing "Take It Easy," a tune pilot Paul Lockhart used to play for the spacewalkers at the end of underwater training runs in Houston.
"Thank you very much," Perrin radioed. "This has been the best time of my life."
For the Canadian Space Agency, which supplied the arm, "today has just been a banner day," said a robotics flight controller at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
"Today's success absolutely proves the Canadarm2 is fully maintainable on orbit," said Tim Braithwaite, lead robotics officer for the Canadian Space Agency. "Every piece of this arm can be replaced in space and brought back to the ground for repair. This is an attribute that sets it apart from the Canadarm shuttle arm, and this defines Canadarm2 as the most capable, flexible, unique robotics system ever deployed."
"The last 14 months have been a period of tremendous growth for the international space station and Canadarm2 has been a critical part of many of the milestones along the way. Despite some glitches we had in the first few months after the arm arrived on station, we were able to press through that."
Braithwaite said the Canadian Space Agency "simply could not be more pleased with the results from today and this whole flight. And we're really looking forward ... to continuing to build and maintain the space station."
The spacewalkers had no problems bolting the new joint in place and re-attaching the arm's hand-like latching end effector, or LEE, to complete this critical bit of orbital surgery.
"Houston, we're complete with this portion of the wrist-LEE installation," pilot Paul Lockhart reported just before 4 p.m.
"Endeavour, we copy. Confirm that we have a go to continue," astronaut Mike Fossum called from Houston.
"Roger. Both EV1 and 2 are clear, you have a go to power up the station arm."
"OK, Endeavour, we copy," Fossum replied. "Time to wake up the patient and see how the arm's doing after surgery. By the way, we see per the timeline that you guys are right on. Nice job."
Today's spacewalk got off to a slow start, with Perrin and Chang-Diaz falling an hour or so behind schedule setting up their tools and work platforms.
With the conclusion of today's spacewalk - the 41st devoted to space station assembly - 31 Americans, one Canadian, one Frenchman - Perrin - and five Russian cosmonauts have now logged 255 hours and 58 minutes of spacewalk time building the international lab complex. The three spacewalks staged during Endeavour's mission totaled 19 hours and 31 minutes.
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