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First STS-116 Space Walk Wraps Up

Discovery in orbit. Image credit: NASAConstruction is continued on the International Space Station today, when the crew of STS-116 went outside on their first spacewalk to attach the P5 truss segment. Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang did the spacewalking, while Joan Higginbotham and Sunita Williams worked the robot arm to assist the construction. Two more spacewalks are planned during STS-116 to reconfigure and redistribute power generated by the solar arrays.

The International Space Station grew Tuesday when the STS-116 crew installed the P5 integrated truss segment. The P5 was attached at 5:45 p.m. EST.

The construction work was performed by STS-116 spacewalkers Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang and robot arm operators Joan Higginbotham and Sunita Williams. The P5 spacer segment’s attachment to the P4 sets the stage for the addition of the P6 and its set of solar arrays.

Two more spacewalks are scheduled during STS-116’s stay to reconfigure and redistribute power generated by the station’s solar arrays. The spacewalks are set for Thursday and Saturday.

The P5’s installation is not the only change that the station has undergone since Space Shuttle Discovery docked Monday. Williams, who arrived at the station with the STS-116 mission, replaced European Space Agency Astronaut Thomas Reiter on the Expedition 14 crew at midnight Tuesday.

Williams will remain a member of Expedition 14 until Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin are relieved by Expedition 15 in March 2007. Williams will finish her remaining time of her six-month tour of duty on the station as a member of Expedition 15.

Reiter will wrap up his stay on the station when he leaves with STS-116 next week. He arrived at the station in July with the STS-121 mission to give the station its first three-member crew since May 2003. He was a member of Expedition 13 until Expedition 14 began its tour of duty in September.

The crew rotation became official when their custom-made seatliners were swapped out in the Soyuz spacecraft docked to the station.

Also, the Expedition 14 and STS-116 crews will conduct a week of joint operations. In addition to the spacewalks, they will transfer cargo between the vehicles. Discovery and its crew are scheduled to stay at the station until Dec. 18.

Original Source: NASA News Release

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Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.

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