Archive for Sunday, March 23, 2008

Astronauts complete mission’s final spacewalk

March 23, 2008

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— Endeavour's astronauts embarked on the fifth and final spacewalk of their mission Saturday, this time attaching a 50-foot inspection pole to the international space station for use by the next shuttle visitors.

Michael Foreman and Robert Behnken floated out the hatch late in the afternoon as the linked shuttle and station soared more than 200 miles above the Pacific. They spacewalked the night away, successfully accomplishing all their work.

"You're the gladiator, Mike," astronaut Richard Linnehan called from inside, playing a five-second sound clip from the 2000 film. "You both are."

The shuttle astronauts used the laser-tipped inspection boom at the beginning of their 16-day mission and again Friday night to check for any damage to their spaceship. It's become a routine safety procedure ever since the 2003 Columbia accident.

Discovery won't have room for a boom when it flies in May; the Japanese Kibo lab is so big it will take up the entire payload bay. So Endeavour's astronauts left theirs behind.

Saturday night's spacewalk, which lasted six hours, was the last major space station job for Endeavour's crew.

The shuttle arrived at the orbiting complex March 12, delivering the first section of the Kibo lab and a Canadian robot with 11-foot arms that is designed to assist future spacewalkers.

Endeavour is scheduled to undock from the space station on Monday night and land back at Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday night.

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