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  • Going Outside
    Posted by Frank Morring, Jr. 4:30 PM on Jul 18, 2009

    Spacewalkers Dave Wolf and Tim Kopra have started the first extravehicular activity (EVA) of the STS-127 mission to the International Space Station, heading out of the station's Quest airlock to get the final element of Japan's Kibo laboratory module ready to install.


    blog post photo
    NASA TV

    The two plan to remove protective insulation on Kibo and its exposed facility so the shuttle and station robotic arm can work together to plug the porchlike unit into the lab. Wolf, who made his first EVA on Russia's old Mir space station, will work on the laboratory end of the operation. Kopra, now the newest member of the ISS crew after arriving on the space shuttle Endeavour on Friday, will work on the exposed facility while it is still in the orbiter's payload bay.

    The two switched their suits to battery power at 12:19 p.m. EDT to start their spacewalk, which is scheduled to last six-and-a-half hours.

    In addition to the Kibo work, the two spacewalkers also will deploy a pair of fixtures on the station truss that are designed to hold large spare parts for use after the shuttles stop flying late next year, and move a crew equipment and translation aid (CETA) cart out of the way of the big solar alpha rotary joint on the port end of the truss. They will also move a pair of grounding cables on Kibo's robotic arm that are blocking the view of the video camera needed to operate the arm once the exposed facility is in place.

    Meanwhile, robotics operations in the shuttle and station will use the orbiter's robotic arm to pull the exposed facility out of the payload bay and hand it off to the station arm. The station arm will plug it in to the outboard end of Kibo, completing assembly of the Japanese laboratory module -- the largest on the station.

    Earlier this morning mission managers at Johnson Space Center informed the sparefarers that a focused inspection of the orbiter's delicate heat shield won't be required. Endeavour's crew spent its first day in space painstakingly going over the reinforced carbon-carbon panels that protect the nose and wing leading edges during reentry with a laser sensor boom at the end of the robotic arm. And before Endeavour docked the station crew photographed the orbiter's belly with telephone lenses while Commander mark Polansky flew it thorough the standard back-flip rendezvous pitch maneuver.

    Those early inspections, required since the Columbia accident, apparently turned up no damage from a cloud of insulating foam that fell from Endeavour's external tank during ascent that requires a closer look.

    Tags: os99, STS127, Endeavour, ISS, spacewalk, Kibo

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