Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spacewalkers Move Crane, Install Experiment

Spacewalkers Move CraneInternational Space Station Expedition 30 Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov wrapped up a six-hour, 15-minute spacewalk at 3:46 p.m. EST Thursday.

The two spacewalkers moved the Strela-1 crane from the Pirs docking compartment to begin preparing the Pirs for its replacement next year with a new laboratory and docking module. Kononenko and Shkaplerov used another boom, the Strela-2, to move the hand-operated crane to the Poisk module for future assembly and maintenance work. Both telescoping booms extend like fishing rods and are used to move massive components outside the station. This task was originally scheduled during an Expedition 28 spacewalk on Aug. 3, 2011, but was called off due to time constraints.

While Kononenko and Shkaplerov were on the exterior of Poisk, they also installed the Vinoslivost Materials Sample Experiment, which will investigate the influence of space on the mechanical properties of the materials.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Shuttle Fleet Left Mark in Space, Hearts

The space shuttle left its 30 years of achievements written in the sky above and in the hearts of the astronauts, American and international, who flew in them.

"Personally, looking back on it, I think the shuttle has been one of the most marvelous vehicles that has ever gone into space or done anything," said Bob Crippen, the iconic pilot on the first space shuttle mission in 1981, and commander of three more after that.

The shuttle broke boundaries of all sorts during its career, from technological successes to reflecting the evolution of American and global society. International cooperation that was commonplace as the shuttle neared the end of its work was unforeseen when the shuttle program began.

The thousands of space workers who physically readied the fleet to fly and those who worked meticulous mental problems to calculate orbits and rendezvous along with thrust and innumerable other considerations, also shared in the successes of the spacecraft that served as NASA's flagship for three decades.

"It was not like any airplane that you've ever been on or seen or been around," said Wayne Bingham of the United Space Alliance. "It was just like a big glider that you had played with as a kid, but much more impressive. You just kind of stood in awe of what the orbiter was capable of doing."

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