The Endeavour crew completes the final spacewalk on the space shuttle's final mission into space, NASA reports.
Astronauts Mike Fincke and Greg Chamitoff completed a seven-hour,
24-minute spacewalk at 7:39 a.m. on May 27, NASA reported. The
primary objectives for the spacewalk were accomplished, including
stowing the 50-foot-long boom and adding a power and data grapple
fixture to make it the Enhanced International Space Station Boom
Assembly, available to extend the reach of the space station's robotic
This was the final spacewalk conducted by space shuttle
astronauts. It also was the last of the four spacewalks for the STS-134
mission, for a mission total of 28 hours, 44 minutes. At 5:02 a.m.,
Fincke and Chamitoff surpassed the 1,000th hour astronauts and
cosmonauts have spent spacewalking in support of space station assembly
and maintenance, the space agency said.
The milestone occurred
four hours and 47 minutes into the spacewalk, the 159th in support
of station assembly and maintenance, totaling 1,002 hours and 37
minutes. It was the 248th spacewalk U.S. astronauts have conducted and
the 118th from space station airlocks.
It was Fincke's ninth
spacewalk for a total time of 48 hours and 37 minutes; he is sixth on
the all-time list. At about 8 p.m. on May 27, he will become the U.S.
astronaut who has spent the most number of days in space, surpassing
Peggy Whitson's record of 377 days in space. It was Chamitoff's second
spacewalk for a total time of 13 hours and 43 minutes.
Endeavour crew wraps up its final spacewalk, NASA also announced it has
ended operational planning activities for the Mars rover Spirit and
transitioned the Mars Exploration Rover Project to a single-rover
operation focused on Spirit's still-active twin, Opportunity.
last communicated on March 22, 2010, as Martian winter approached and
the rover's solar-energy supply declined. The rover operated for more
than six years after landing in January 2004 for what was planned as a
three-month mission. NASA checked frequently in recent months for
possible reawakening of Spirit as solar energy available to the rover
increased during Martian spring. A series of additional re-contact
attempts ended May 27, designed for various possible combinations of
"Our job was to wear these rovers out exploring, to leave no
unutilized capability on the surface of Mars, and for Spirit, we have
done that," said Mars Exploration Rover project manager John Callas of
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
The trove of data from Spirit could still yield future science
revelations. Years of analysis of some 2005 observations by the rover's
Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer, Miniature Thermal Emission
Spectrometer and Moessbauer Spectrometer produced a report last year
that an outcrop on Husband Hill bears a high concentration of carbonate.
Steve Squyres of Cornell University, principal investigator for Spirit
and Opportunity, said this is evidence of a wet, non-acidic ancient
environment that may have been favorable for microbial life.
most remarkable to me about Spirit's mission is just how extensive her
accomplishments became," said Squyres. "What we initially conceived as a
fairly simple geologic experiment on Mars ultimately turned into
humanity's first real overland expedition across another planet. Spirit
explored just as we would have, seeing a distant hill, climbing it and
showing us the vista from the summit. And she did it in a way that
allowed everyone on Earth to be part of the adventure."
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.