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Atlantis astronauts carry out first scheduled spacewalk outside ISS

RIA Novosti

01:2418/05/2010 MOSCOW, May 18 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. astronauts Garrett Reisman and Steve Bowen have successfully carried out their first scheduled spacewalk on routine maintenance of the International Space Station (ISS), the NASA said.

The U.S. air and space agency said that during a 7 hour and 25 minutes walk the astronauts installed a new space-to-ground antenna to "increase the space station's ability to conduct two-way data, voice, and video communications."

Reisman and Bowen also "put into place a new tool platform for the Dextre robot, and Bowen prepared six batteries that will be installed during the second and third spacewalks by loosening the bolts that hold the batteries in place."

Canada's Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator robot, or Dextre, helps to maintain the ISS.

The Atlantis crew is scheduled to make two more routine spacewalks outside the ISS before heading to the Earth to wrap up the flights of this U.S. spacecraft type.

NASA is planning to scrap its Space Shuttle program by the end of the year. The U.S. space agency says the shuttles are outdated and too expensive to maintain.

The last launch of the U.S. space shuttle Endeavor is planned for mid-November.

Russian Soyuz spacecraft will take U.S. astronauts to the space station after NASA stops launching its shuttles.

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