Astronauts successfully install solar wings (Update)

Mar 19, 2009 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
In this image from NASA TV, space shuttle Discovery crew member Steven Swanson, right, works outside the international space station during a space walk orbiting Earth, Thursday, March 19, 2009. The spacewalk will be the first of three planned for Discovery's space station visit. (AP Photo/NASA TV)

(AP) -- Spacewalking astronauts installed the last set of solar wings at the international space station Thursday, accomplishing the top job of shuttle Discovery's mission. Steven Swanson and Richard Arnold II struggled with some cable connections, but managed to hook everything up.

"It wasn't quite as smooth as we had hoped, but those guys did a great job," astronaut Joseph Acaba told Mission Control.

The next milestone will be Friday, when the folded-up are unfurled.

Manpower was needed inside and out to attach the $300 million segment to the . Swanson and Arnold helped their colleagues inside the shuttle-space station complex cautiously move the 31,000-pound, 45-foot-long girder into position with a .

"Keep coming," one of the said. "It really looks good to me."

The actual attachment occurred an hour into the , and the hookups were completed two hours later.

Discovery delivered the new wings earlier this week. It's the final of solar wings to be installed at the 10-year-old space station and will bring it to full power. It's also the last major American-made piece of the space station.

Before going back inside, Swanson and Arnold must release and remove the locks and cinches holding down the solar wings. That will allow the 115-foot wings to be extended on Friday, an even more nerve-racking procedure than the one Thursday. The last time tried to unfurl a solar wing in 2007, it snagged on a guide wire and ripped. Emergency repairs were required.

Six solar wings already are in place at the space station. The new ones will bring the number to eight, with four wings on each side.

The space station "is almost symmetric, looking forward to that becoming permanent today," Mission Control said in a wake-up message to the astronauts.

NASA needs the extra electrical power that the new wings will provide in order to boost the amount of research being conducted at the space station. The pace of science work will pick up once the number of station crew members doubles to six; that's supposed to happen in two more months.

"Give us some more power," the space station's skipper, Mike Fincke, told the spacewalkers as they floated out Thursday afternoon.

Swanson was making the third spacewalk of his career. Arnold, a former schoolteacher, was on his first.

Thursday's spacewalk 220 miles up was the first of three planned for Discovery's space station visit. There should have been four spacewalks, but delays in launching the shuttle cut the mission short.

Discovery needs to leave the space station Wednesday so that a Russian spacecraft can bring up a fresh crew.

---

On the Net:

NASA: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Kazakh satellite to be launched into orbit

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Shuttle, station crews begin girder work

Mar 18, 2009

(AP) -- The astronauts aboard the linked space shuttle and space station began their high-priority girder work Wednesday, a two-day job that will culminate with the installation of two new solar wings at ...

Shuttle Discovery zooms toward space station

Mar 17, 2009

(AP) -- With a kick of its rocket thrusters, space shuttle Discovery zoomed to the international space station Tuesday to deliver one last set of solar wings that should bring the orbiting complex to full ...

NASA fuels Discovery for flight to space station

Mar 11, 2009

(AP) -- NASA fueled space shuttle Discovery for a night flight to the international space station Wednesday, following a month's delay to make sure the ship's valves are just right.

Shuttle Discovery Launches to Fully Power Space Station

Mar 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Space shuttle Discovery and its seven-member crew lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 7:43 p.m. EDT Sunday to deliver the final set of power-generating solar array wings and a new ...

NASA shooting for Sunday shuttle Discovery launch

Mar 12, 2009

(AP) -- NASA is replacing some space shuttle connections in hopes of plugging a gas leak and launching Discovery to the international space station on Sunday, after delays of more than a month.

Recommended for you

Kazakh satellite to be launched into orbit

14 hours ago

Kazakhstan's first-ever Earth observation satellite is to be fired into orbit next week from the European spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana, launch company Arianespace said.

Habitable exoplanets are bad news for humanity

16 hours ago

Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same size as Earth ...

First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

Apr 23, 2014

A NASA scientist is launching a one-to-two-year pilot project this summer that takes advantage of U.S. high-voltage power transmission lines to measure a phenomenon that has caused widespread power outages ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Habitable exoplanets are bad news for humanity

Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same size as Earth ...

Professional and amateur astronomers join forces

(Phys.org) —Long before the term "citizen science" was coined, the field of astronomy has benefited from countless men and women who study the sky in their spare time. These amateur astronomers devote hours ...

Kazakh satellite to be launched into orbit

Kazakhstan's first-ever Earth observation satellite is to be fired into orbit next week from the European spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana, launch company Arianespace said.

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...