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Discovery spacewalk to fix solar wing postponed until Saturday

RIA Novosti

01/11/2007 13:32 WASHINGTON, November 1 (RIA Novosti) - NASA Discovery shuttle planners have rescheduled to Saturday a spacewalk to fix a ripped solar wing, the U.S. space agency's Web site said on Thursday.

The spacewalk, originally due to take place on November 1, will be undertaken by Scott Parazynski and Doug Wheelock. The two astronauts plan to use the space station's robotic arm to fix the damaged solar wing.

Initially, the current STS-120 Discovery mission, launched on October 23 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, was to deliver docking ports for European and Japanese laboratories. However, as NASA cannot add any modules to the orbiting outpost until the damaged power wing is fixed, the focus of the mission has been drastically redefined.

NASA is concerned that existing damage to the solar wing could worsen, leading to a loss of its ability to collect power. On Wednesday, the Houston Chronicle newspaper quoted Mike Suffredini, NASA's space station program manager as saying that if the astronauts are unable to fix the wing then, "The most likely option is that we would have to jettison it".

The damage was spotted on Sunday, when astronauts noticed some metallic grit on the device turning the batteries to track the sun for power.

The crew on board Discovery were also reported to have celebrated Halloween on Wednesday.

Discovery is scheduled to land at the Florida Kennedy Space Center next Wednesday.

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