Astronauts relax, take in views after 2 spacewalks

March 3, 2011 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
In this frame grab made from NASA TV, space shuttle mission specialists Alvin Drew, left, and Stephen Bowen, make one final spacewalk of the mission and the final one involving Discovery at the International Space Station Tuesday, March 2, 2011. (AP Photo/NASA TV)

(AP) -- The 12 orbiting astronauts took care of a little maintenance work aboard the International Space Station on Thursday and gave it a boost before enjoying a well deserved break.

With the major objectives of their joint mission behind them, the station and shuttle crews couldn't wait to gather around the big bay window to take in the majestic views of Earth. Mission Control gave them the afternoon off, a day after the second and final of Discovery's final journey.

Astronaut Alvin Drew, one of the spacewalkers, said when he first floated out earlier in the week, "I had to keep reminding myself that I had a job to do and not just take in this gorgeous scenery around me."

"You are part of the scene. You've gone through the looking glass," he said in a series of TV interviews.

Astronaut Nicole Stott said she and her crewmates have talked a lot about Discovery's final voyage. NASA's oldest shuttle will be retired once it returns to Earth next week and be sent to a museum.

Endeavour will make its farewell flight in April, and Atlantis will close out NASA's 30-year shuttle program this summer.

Stott noted that the word "bittersweet" is used quite a bit to describe this last flight of Discovery, which she called "a really, really high-performing spacecraft."

"I tend to think more 'bittersad,' " she told an interviewer.

She added: "It's just a part of history that I hope we hold on to and appreciate and that we celebrate when we get home and are walking away from her on the runway for the last time."

Shuttle commander Steven Lindsey said the mission has gone "just absolutely spectacular" and he and his crew couldn't be happier.

The six shuttle and six station teamed up to install a new storage room on the orbiting lab, and hooked up an equipment platform with a spare radiator.

On Thursday morning, they fired Discovery's thrusters to steer the outpost into a slightly higher orbit. And late afternoon, they were going to get a special phone call - from President Barack Obama.

Discovery will remain at the space station until Sunday, a day longer than originally planned. The extra time will be used to unload supplies and experiments from the storage unit. They may get yet another bonus day in orbit, which would stretch their mission to 13 days. A decision was expected Thursday.

Explore further: Chinese astronauts enter space station following docking


Related Stories

China launches its longest crewed space mission yet (Update)

October 17, 2016

Two Chinese astronauts began the country's longest crewed space mission yet on Monday, blasting off on a spacecraft for a 30-day stay on an experimental space station as China steadfastly navigates its way to becoming a space ...

Recommended for you

STEREO—10 years of revolutionary solar views

October 26, 2016

Launched 10 years ago, on Oct. 25, 2006, the twin spacecraft of NASA's STEREO mission – short for Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory – have given us unprecedented views of the sun, including the first-ever simultaneous ...

Image: Changing colors in Saturn's pole

October 26, 2016

These two natural color images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft show the changing appearance of Saturn's north polar region between 2012 and 2016.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Mar 03, 2011
"The astronauts in orbit at the International Space Station are will be getting a break."

Who writes these articles?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.