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The combined crews of the International Space Station and the space shuttle Endeavour overcame some balky bolts last night to put the station's new cupola in its permanent position overlooking the spinning Earth 200 miles away.NASA TVOnce spacewalkers remove the protective insulation covering the Italian-built cupola and the shutters protecting its seven windows are open, the crews will get their first look at a view that is likely to enthrall them and their successors on the orbiting laboratory for as long as the ISS is in orbit. As early as Wednesday morning, Eastern Time, they will be able to see the nadir, or Earth-facing side of the space station, from a vantage point near the center of the structure.The 360-degree orbital vista vista is sure to attract a crowd to the new Tranquility node whenever the shutters - designed to protect the hardened windows from space debris and contamination -- are opened. Astronauts will spend the rest of the docked portion of the STS-130 mission outfitting the node, moving in life-support system racks from other parts of the station and setting up exercise equipment and a toilet.NASA TVFor a few moments Sunday night it appeared the crews might not be able to get the cupola off the forward end of the node, where it rode to orbit because it wouldn't fit in Endeavour's payload bay in its side-mounted position. Mission managers had already decided that problems with a temporary cover designed to protect the berthing mechanism where the cupola was temporarily attached weren't cause to delay the relocation.At the station robotic controls inside the Destiny laboratory module, Endeavour pilot Terry Virts, mission specialist Kay Hire and Expedition 22 Commander Jeff Williams sent the commands for the mechanical bolts holding the cupola in place to unwind. The bolts jammed, triggering a flurry of activity at Mission Control Center-Houston-Houston.Engineers there quickly figured out adjustments in the torque and other factors in the unbolting sequence, and the 1.6-ton cupola came free. Virts and Hire used their laptop controls to move it from the end to the side of the node on the station's robotic arm, and it latched into place at the berthing mechanism there.NASA TVAt the end of their workday the robotics crew grappled the pressurized mating adaptor they will install where they removed the cupola. They are scheduled to reposition the docking cone about four hours after their wakeup call today at 4:14 p.m. EST, before knocking off for a few hours of off-duty time.At the end of the on-orbit workday early Tuesday spacewalkers Bob Behnken and Nick Patrick will move back into the station's Quest airlock, where they will sleep in a low-pressure "camp-out" to prepare their bodies for the third and final extravehicular activity (EVA) of the mission on Tuesday night. The EVA astronauts are scheduled to connect power and data cables to the relocated pressurized mating adaptor, install handrails and other hardware on Tranquility's hull, and open a valve to start the flow of ammonia coolant into the new node.They will also remove the cupola insulation and unlatch the shutters. If all goes as planned on the EVA, the crew may be able to get their first look out the cupola windows before they go to sleep at about 8:15 a.m. EST Wednesday.
os99, sts130, ISS, Endeavour, cupola
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