- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2011

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA. (AP) - A pair of spacewalking astronauts stepped out of the International Space Station on Sunday to top off a leaky radiator line and apply some grease to a critical joint in the power system.

Shuttle astronauts Andrew Feustel and Mike Fincke added ammonia to the space station’s coolant system, after rerouting jumper cables and opening valves. One line is leaking slightly, and the astronauts needed to recharge it.

Ammonia is extremely hazardous, and the two did their best to avoid contaminating their spacesuits.

“Everything’s looking good,” Mission Control assured the astronauts.

The spacewalkers also had to lubricate a large joint that rotates the space station’s solar wings on the left side.

It was the second of four spacewalks planned for Endeavour’s final visit to the space station.

“All right, guys, here we go,” astronaut Gregory Chamitoff called from inside as the spacewalk got under way in the wee hours of the morning. “This is an important one for the longevity of the station, for the power and cooling, so let’s get started.”

These are the final spacewalks to be conducted by visiting shuttle crew members; the goal is to leave the space station in the best possible condition for its next decade of operation.

As they ventured out more than 200 miles up, the two men praised one another.

“It’s an honor to be walking, spacewalking with a Hubble spacewalker,” Fincke told Feustel, part of the last Hubble repair team in 2009.

“It’s an honor to be walking with the man with the most time in space,” Feustel replied. Fincke will become the most traveled American in space by next weekend, surpassing the current record of 377 days aloft.

“Well, let’s make this quality time today,” Fincke said.

Feustel and Chamitoff had to cut Friday’s spacewalk a little short because of a failed carbon dioxide sensor in Chamitoff’s suit. That problem wasn’t expected during Sunday’s outing.

On Monday, three of the six space station residents will head home in their Russian Soyuz capsule after a five-month mission. In a unique photo op, the departing crew will photograph Endeavour parked at the space station.

Then on Wednesday, Feustel and Fincke will venture back out for spacewalk No. 3.

Endeavour, under the command of Mark Kelly, husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, will remain at the orbiting outpost for another week. Landing is scheduled for June 1.

This is NASA’s next-to-last space shuttle mission. The 30-year program will end in July with the flight of Atlantis.



NASA: https://www.nasa.gov/shuttle

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