- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2006

HOUSTON (AP) — Two astronauts unpacked a new radiator yesterday and performed some fix-it tasks outside the International Space Station before wrapping up the final spacewalk of Space Shuttle Atlantis’ 11-day mission.

Spacewalkers Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Joe Tanner also picked up a science experiment, replaced an antenna and took video of the shuttle’s heat shield during their six hours and 42 minutes in space.

“We have to say, what a wonderful job you both did today,” Pam Melroy in Mission Control told them after they were back inside the space station’s airlock.

The radiator will be a key part of the space station’s solar energy arrays, dissipating the heat generated by the solar panels’ electronics.

The astronauts had started the installation of the $372 million solar panel addition to the space station in their first spacewalk, and yesterday wrapped up the third and final outing of Atlantis’ 11-day mission. It was the first construction mission to the space station since the 2003 Columbia disaster.

A minor glitch delayed the spacewalkers yesterday morning, but it was fixed after about 45 minutes.

The delay was caused by a surge of electricity that activated a circuit breaker. The spacewalking astronauts spend time in a depressurized room to rid their bodies of nitrogen and avoid decompression sickness, and the depressurization pump in that room shut down with the surge. NASA determined the pump did not short and simply restarted it, spokesman Bill Jeffs said.

There also was a temporary glitch with Mrs. Stefanyshyn-Piper’s spacesuit — the oxygen pressure dropped for a moment, but it came back up.

Atlantis delivered a 171/2-ton truss with two solar panel wings that were unfurled Thursday and that eventually will provide a quarter of the space station’s power. They won’t begin generating electricity until the next space mission, though, when the power system is rewired, expected in December.

“You just can’t imagine a flight going as well as this one has gone,” lead space station flight director John McCullough said. “I couldn’t ask for a better start — a re-start — to assembly.”

As they worked on the radiator, Mr. Tanner took a moment to appreciate the view.

“Kind of nice up here,” he said.

The two spacewalkers also picked up a science experiment that tested how various materials fare in space.

When Atlantis undocks from the space station tomorrow, the astronauts will fly around it and examine their handiwork, said Mike Suffredini, space station program manager.

This will be the first time since the Columbia broke apart that a crew will be able to do that. In addition to the aesthetic benefits, NASA will also be able to check on areas of the station its engineers don’t normally see — something they aim to do at least once a year.



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