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5:30 p.m. CDT, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2007
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-118 MCC Status Report #21
Two astronauts conducted a five-hour spacewalk today, finishing up the last priorities of Endeavour’s mission, while their crewmates inside prepared for an early undocking, now scheduled for Sunday.

Mission Specialist Dave Williams and International Space Station Flight Engineer Clay Anderson left the station’s airlock at 8:17 a.m. By the time they returned at 1:19 p.m., they’d completed all of the tasks scheduled for the replanned spacewalk, which was trimmed by two hours to allow for a day-early hatch closing at 4:10 p.m. CDT today.

Williams and Anderson installed the External Wireless Instrumentation System antenna, attached a stand for the shuttle’s robotic arm extension boom and retrieved the two materials experiment containers to be brought home on the shuttle. Two other tasks originally planned for the spacewalk – cleaning up and securing debris shielding and moving a tool box to a more central location – were deferred to a future spacewalk.

During the spacewalk, the crew got a good look at Hurricane Dean as the station and shuttle passed over the Caribbean, prompting Williams to comment, “Wow.” On the ground, mission managers reviewed the storm’s track and decided to move Endeavour’s undocking up a day, to 6:57 a.m. Sunday.

If the storm continues to threaten Houston, the plan is now to land at one of three shuttle landing sites – Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Edwards Air Force Base in California, or White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico – on Tuesday. If Endeavour is unable to land on Tuesday and the storm continues to threaten Houston, managers would send a small Emergency Mission Control Center team of flight controllers to Florida to support a Wednesday landing. International Space Station managers are preparing to execute a similar Backup Control Center plan if needed.

However, if the storm takes a more favorable track, managers may elect to proceed with a landing strategy that allows the entry team of flight controllers to pick the best landing day and site based on landing site weather conditions.

The next status report will be issued Sunday morning or earlier if events warrant.