Astronaut Ed Lu and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko took a 6 hour, 14 minute walk outside the shuttle this morning to complete final connections between the International Space Station's newest module, Zvezda and its first component, Zarya.
The space walk was the sixth in support of ISS assembly and the 50th in Shuttle Program history. It began at 11:47 last night and ended at 6:01 this morning.
The two crewmembers essentially served as construction workers and electricians while outside, attaching cabling that fully, and permanently, integrate Zvezda to the rest of the ISS.
During the extravehicular activity (EVA), or space walk, Mission Specialists Lu and Malenchenko stayed ahead of the timeline with choreography from inside by their crewmate, Dan Burbank. By his side on the flight deck was Rick Mastracchio, who deftly maneuvered them around the station using the robot arm.
They connected nine cables between Zvezda and Zarya, including four 27-foot long cables to permit power usage from future solar arrays provided by the U.S. This will eventually allow the sharing of electrical power as the station grows in size. Another four cables extending 16 feet were secured that will provide video and data transmissions throughout the ISS. A final fiber-optic telemetry cable was installed that will be used to provide Russian spacesuit data to be transferred to the ground during future space walks.
The final task was to construct and attach a magnetometer that serves as a backup navigation system for the station. This task took the two tethered space walkers the furthest distance from the shuttle than ever before - 110 feet above the payload bay. That's twice as far as when astronauts work on the Hubble Space Telescope.
Following the space walk, Commander Terry Wilcutt and Pilot Scott Altman fired small thruster jets on Atlantis to slowly increase the station's overall altitude. Three separate one-hour reboost maneuvers are planned during the docked phase of the flight.
The STS-106 crew will be awakened at 6:46 p.m. today and open the 12 hatches required in preparation for the transfer of almost 3 tons of hardware and supplies from the shuttle and a Progress vehicle to the ISS.
The next mission status report will be issued about 7 this evening or sooner if events warrant.
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