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Errors mar Discovery crew's second spacewalk

A pin goes in upside down and a storage platform is jammed at the space station. The crew's final spacewalk will be Monday.

March 22, 2009|Associated Press

Spacewalking astronauts accidentally inserted a pin upside down and jammed an equipment storage platform at the International Space Station on Saturday, prompting NASA to assemble a special team to address the problem.

Steven Swanson and Joseph Acaba loosened bolts on batteries, hooked up an antenna and photographed a pair of radiators. But the pin trouble ate up so much time that they had to skip some chores.

NASA immediately put together a team of experts to determine whether there's any way the crew can pry or hammer the pin loose during a spacewalk Monday -- the third and last of Discovery's mission.

The lead spacewalk officer in Mission Control, Glenda Laws-Brown, said that since there is no up or down in space, Acaba apparently installed the pin "180 degrees out from where it should have been."

"Even with it being installed in the opposite location, he just drew a card of bad luck. . . . If it had been rotated just a little bit more or maybe a little bit less, it might have cleared just fine," she told reporters. "Some days you're lucky, and some days you're less lucky."

The equipment storage platform was partially deployed on the space station's framework. To keep it from flapping around, Swanson tied it down with tethers.

Those tethers, however, would last just three months in space. Engineers were looking at a more permanent solution in case the platform remains jammed.

Saturday's 6 1/2-hour excursion was the second in three days for the crew. On Thursday, astronauts installed the final pair of solar wings at the orbiting outpost. The panels were unfurled Friday.

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