Astronauts take spacewalk No. 3 after suit snag

Nov 23, 2009 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
In this image made from video and released by NASA, astronaut Robert Satcher Jr. is seen preparing to work on a high-pressure tank on the International Space Station. The third and final spacewalk of space shuttle Atlantis' mission will conclude Monday, 23, 2009, at 1 p.m. EST. Satcher will be joined outside by Randolph Bresnik, the father of a new baby girl. The two will hook up a fresh oxygen tank and science experiments at the International Space Station. (AP Photo/NASA)

(AP) -- A pair of astronauts stepped out on the third and final spacewalk of their shuttle mission Monday, helping to install an enormous oxygen tank at the International Space Station.

Dr. Robert Satcher Jr. and Randolph Bresnik removed the tank from a newly delivered cargo platform on the station, then let a robot arm take it from there.

Bresnik, still celebrating the birth of his daughter, Abigail Mae, was jazzed up for the excursion.

"Hey, Wyatt, I look just like Spider-Man," he called out to his 3 1/2-year-old son as he clambered along the station's latticelike framework.

The tank - about 5 feet by 6 feet and 1,200 pounds - was moved and attached to the NASA air lock, a chamber leading out to the vacuum of space. It was filled with high-pressure oxygen for future spacewalks. The spacewalkers hooked up the gas line for the tank, then opened and closed a valve for a leak check.

It was the second spacewalk for Bresnik and Satcher, the first orthopedic surgeon in orbit.

The new dad's enthusiasm was infectious. Satcher, one of shuttle Atlantis' Twittering crew members, took some photographs for his online followers.

"Need to give a shot to the Twitterverse," said the doctor, who goes by ZeroG-MD.

The two managed to get ahead of schedule, even though they floated out the hatch an hour late.

A valve on the drink bag in Satcher's suit came off as he was getting ready for the spacewalk. To everyone's relief, the valve to the water pouch went back on tightly. The concern was that big blobs of water could float up and get in his eyes if the valve came loose during the spacewalk.

The first two spacewalks of Atlantis' weeklong space station visit went so well, and the accomplished so much extra work, that only a few chores remained. Satcher and Bresnik removed two orbital debris shields from the air lock to make room for the oxygen tank and hung up some science experiments.

Atlantis and its crew of seven will depart the space station Wednesday. The shuttle will aim for a landing back at Kennedy Space Center on Friday.

Rebecca Bresnik, meanwhile, was said to be doing well with her new baby. She delivered the six-pound, 13-ounce girl back in Houston.

On Sunday, Bresnik proudly wore a black "it's a girl" T-shirt, passed out pink bubble gum cigars to his 11 spacemates, and showed off a pink onesie emblazoned with his crew's mission patch.

"Other than seeing my wife for the first time, I've never seen anything more beautiful than being outside" on a , Bresnik said Sunday. He said pictures of his daughter, beamed up later in the day by Mission Control, were sure to shove the views of Earth into third place.

On the Net: NASA:

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