Discovery's crew preps for the second spacewalk of the shuttle's final mission to space.
After a brief delay to fix
what NASA called a "minor leak" in crew member Steve Bowen's
spacesuit, Discovery astronauts March 2 began their second spacewalk of the
The spacewalk began shortly
before 11 a.m. EST. According to a tweet from NASA, the leak in Bowen's space
suit was caused by a problem with an O-ring inserted in a lithium hydroxide
canister. A replacement O-ring was put in place, and the spacewalk
began. Earlier in the morning, the shuttle crew was awakened by a call
from Mission Control Houston that featured the song, "The Speed of Sound"
by Coldplay, which was played for Pilot Eric Boe.
Mission Specialist Nicole
Stott is choreographing the spacewalk as the intravehicular officer while
Mission Specialist Mike Barratt and station Commander Scott Kelly operate the
Canadarm2 from the robotic workstation in the station's cupola. The
spacewalkers are scheduled to perform several tasks during their excursion,
including venting ammonia from the failed pump module they moved to a storage
location the spacewalk Feb. 28.
They also are
removing a lightweight adapter plate previously used to attach experiments
to the exterior of the Columbus laboratory and remove insulation from the
Tranquility node and the newly installed Express Logistics Carrier 4. The
spacewalkers also will install a light on one of the crew equipment and
translation aid carts; install a light and a pan and tilt assembly on Dextre,
the space station's Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator; and troubleshoot a
loose radiator grapple fixture stowage beam, which would be used if a radiator
ever needed to be replaced.
The spacewalk is expected to
last 6 hours and 30 minutes. Meanwhile, crew members inside the complex will
continue transferring more cargo from Discovery and loading trash into the
Japanese Kounotouri2 H-II Transfer Vehicle for eventual disposal. In addition,
the International Space Station has a new room, filled with equipment, supplies
and a new device that could be a precursor of spacewalking robots.
The PMM (Permanent
Multipurpose Module), Leonardo, was installed on the Earth-facing port of the
station's Unity node Tuesday. The PMM adds 2,472 cubic feet of pressurized
storage space to the station, and it brings to the station, in addition to a
humanoid robot called Robonaut 2, a payload of about 28,000 pounds. It includes
an express rack capable of housing a variety of scientific experiments, five
resupply stowage racks, six resupply stowage platforms and two integrated
Bowen replaced Tim Kopra as
mission specialist 2 following a bicycle injury Jan. 15 that prohibited Kopra
from supporting the launch window. Bowen last flew on Atlantis in May 2010 as
part of the STS-132 crew. Flying on the STS-133 mission will make Bowen the first
astronaut ever to fly on consecutive missions.
The shuttle has flown 38
flights, completed 5,247 orbits and spent 322 days in orbit. The shuttle is the
orbiter fleet leader, having flown more flights than any other orbiter in the
fleet, including four in 1985 alone. Discovery also flew all three "return to
flight" missions after the Challenger and Columbia disasters.
Discovery was also the
shuttle that launched the Hubble Space Telescope and the Ulysses probe designed
to study the Sun. In addition, Discovery carried Project Mercury astronaut John
Glenn, who was 77 at the time, back into space during STS-95 in October 1998,
making him the oldest person to venture into space.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.