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Two Discovery astronauts complete first spacewalk of mission

03-01-2011 12:43 BJT

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Two U.S. astronauts conducted the first of two spacewalks for space shuttle Discovery' STS-133 mission on Monday, NASA said.

According to the U.S. space agency, Discovery's mission specialists Steve Bowen and Alvin Drew opened the airlock of the International Space Station (ISS) at 9:46 CST (1546 GMT) to begin the spacewalk, which lasted six hours and 34 minutes.

They hooked up an extension power cable that paved the way for Tuesday's planned installation of a small storage room at the ISS, added a pair of extra rails for the mobile robot arm, and provided extra clearance for a video camera.

They also trapped a sample of space vacuum in a metal canister for Japan's space agency. The so-called "Message In a Bottle" -- a reference to a popular song by The Police -- will return to Earth to go on display, as part of a joint effort by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to capture the vacuum of space.

The spacewalk went smoothly except for a technical glitch on one of the station's robotic arms that forced astronauts to retack while hauling a failed 800-pound cooling system pump.

Discovery lifted off on Thursday afternoon from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and arrived at the ISS on Saturday. This is the 39th flight for Discovery, the first of the three surviving space shuttles to be retired this year.

When the U.S. space shuttle program officially ends later this year, the Russian space program's Soyuz capsule will be the only method for transporting astronauts to and from the ISS.


Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: Xinhua

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