Astronauts start rewiring Space Station

Christer Fuglesang and Robert Curbeam prepare for the first spacewalk
15 December 2006

ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang and NASA's Robert Curbeam successfully completed a five-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station last night. Their main tasks were to start reconfiguring the Station's power supply and relocate two equipment carts.

Before the spacewalk began commands were sent by flight controllers on the ground to power down half of the Space Station. At 20:41 CET (19:41 UT), slightly ahead of schedule, Fuglesang and Curbeam exited through the hatch on the Quest airlock.

Within two hours of starting the spacewalk, work to rewire two of the Station's four power channels was completed. The other two channels will be rewired during a third spacewalk, scheduled for Saturday.

The new configuration of the Station's power supply will allow new solar panels installed in September to come online, increasing power supply by up to 50 percent - an important step ahead of the arrival next year of new Station modules, including the European Columbus laboratory.

Another challenging task completed during the five-hour spacewalk was the relocation of two CETA (Crew Equipment and Translation Aid) carts. CETA carts are used to move spacewalking astronauts and equipment along the truss and act as an EVA workstation.

The two carts were located on the starboard side (right) of the truss – the Station's girder-like backbone structure. The carts were moved to the port side (left) of the truss where they will be out of the way ahead of future Station assembly work.

To perform this task Christer Fuglesang stood on a foothold at the end of the Space Station's robotic arm, Canadarm2. From inside the Station, robotic arm operator Joan Higginbotham manoeuvred Fuglesang to the required locations.

Relocation of the CETA carts

The spacewalk ended after exactly five hours at 01:41 CET (00:41 UT) when the astronauts returned to the airlock.

For ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang, this was just his second spacewalk after taking part in his first last Tuesday, and brings his total EVA-time to 11 hours 36 minutes. This was the fifth EVA for Robert Curbeam, bringing his total to 31 hours 25 minutes.

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