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Spacewalkers Help Attach Docking Port

October 17, 2000|From Associated Press

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Two spacewalking astronauts working Monday with a crew mate inside shuttle Discovery attached a new docking port to the international space station.

The clearances were tight, and Jeff Wisoff and Michael Lopez-Alegria floated alongside the space station, calling out instructions, as Koichi Wakata gently nudged the docking port into place with the space shuttle's robotic arm.

"Wow. This is just outstanding," one of the spacewalkers said when it was over.

It was the second and final space station piece to be installed during the 240-mile-high construction mission. An aluminum framework holding antennas and motion-control devices was attached Saturday and wired by another pair of spacewalkers on Sunday.

Wisoff and Lopez-Alegria encountered problems as soon as they floated outside. At first, their power drills wouldn't loosen the four latches holding down the docking port in the cargo bay.

"Who's scripting this, anyway?" one of them asked.

Once the latches were freed, Japanese astronaut Wakata lifted the 2,700-pound docking port on the end of Discovery's robotic arm and positioned it on the space station. The spacewalkers, one on each side, sounded like moving men as they advised Wakata during the final 1 1/2 feet: Go in 3 inches, pitch up 1 degree, turn one-quarter of a degree to the left.

The spacewalkers' eyes proved invaluable. A short circuit knocked out a camera on the end of the robotic arm Saturday.

The docking port will be used by space shuttle Endeavour when it delivers huge solar panels in December and by Atlantis when it carries up the American lab Destiny in January.

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