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Power outage during space walk

RIA Novosti

11:4418/05/2010 - A partial power outage at the International Space Station briefly interrupted Monday's spacewalk, knocking out robotic camera views of the two astronauts as they worked to install a spare antenna.

The outage happened two hours into the spacewalk by Atlantis crewmen Garrett Reisman and Stephen Bowen. The space station's main command-and-control computer suddenly crashed.

A back-up computer kicked in, but power was temporarily lost to some equipment, including the video monitors being used by the robot arm operator, Piers Sellers.

Reisman was perched on the end of the space station's 58-foot robot arm when Sellers lost his camera views.Bowen was working with connectors on the space station's framework and both were told to stop what they were doing. NASA said neither spacewalker was ever in any danger. In less than half an hour, everything was back to normal, although the back-up computer remained in charge. Reisman said he enjoyed his ride on the robot arm.

First, he carried over the antenna boom to its storage location on the space station. Then, after waiting for all the space station power to come back, he picked up the 6-foot dish antenna itself.

Working by remote control from inside, Sellers moved the arm - with Reisman on it - back towards the installation site. Shuttle Atlantis and its crew of six delivered the antenna and other spare parts to the space station on Sunday. NASA wants to stockpile as much equipment at the orbiting complex as possible before the shuttle programme ends. Only two more shuttle missions remain. For Atlantis, though, this is it. Besides the antenna work, the spacewalkers planned to hook up a storage platform for the station's Canadian-built robot, named Dextre, short for dexterous, and loosen the bolts on six batteries that will be replaced on the following two spacewalks.

NASA may add an extra chore to the second or third spacewalk.

A cable is snagged at the end of the shuttle's inspection boom and mission managers said it should be a quick and easy job to free it. The problem prevented the shuttle crew from properly checking Atlantis over the weekend for launch damage. Mission Control will have the astronauts use the shuttle robot arm on Tuesday to check the sections of the left wing and other areas that were missed in Saturday's survey.

NASA has mandated safety surveys for orbiting shuttles ever since the 2003 Columbia disaster.

A hole in the wing, carved out by a slab of fuel-tank foam insulation at lift-off, led to Columbia's demise during re-entry.

The next spacewalk will be on Wednesday and the last one on Friday.

On Tuesday, the astronauts will accomplish their other major objective - attaching a new Russian compartment to the space station.



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