Amazing Photos and Milestone Tributes Mark Last Space Shuttle Spacewalk

by Ken Kremer on May 28, 2011

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Docked Endeavour at ISS through a fish-eye lens.
A fish-eye lens attached to an electronic still camera was used to capture this image of NASA astronaut Michael Fincke (top center) during the fourth EVA of the STS-134 mission as construction and maintenance continue on the International Space Station. The docked space shuttle Endeavour is visible at left. The blackness of space and Earth's horizon provide the backdrop for the scene. Credit: NASA

Absolutely remarkable exterior panoramic photos of the ISS and tributes by Shuttle Astronauts marked two major milestones in spaceflight history today, May 27; the last spacewalk ever by Space Shuttle Astronauts and the formal completion of the US segment of the International Space Station after 12 years of construction.

Today’s spacewalk by shuttle Endeavour Astronauts Mike Fincke and Greg Chamitoff was the last ever outing in the three decade history of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.

Check out the breathtaking photos taken by the astronauts today showing a wide angle view of the complex, including all of shuttle Endeavour at one end and a Russian Soyuz at the other end – backdropped by Earth.

A portion of the ISS and docked Space Shuttle Endeavour.
This image was photographed by a spacewalker, using a fish-eye lens attached to an electronic still camera, during the STS-134 mission's fourth extravehicular activity (EVA). The blackness of space and Earth's horizon provide the backdrop for the scene. Credit: NASA

The seven-hour, 24-minute spacewalk was the fourth and final EVA of the STS-134 mission and simultaneously finished the assembly of the US portion of the orbiting lab complex.

The primary objectives of the spacewalk were to attach Endeavour’s 50-foot-long Orbiter Boom Sensing System (OBSS) and install a new grapple fixture to make the OBSS available to significantly extend the reach of the space station’s robotic arm. The OBSS was used to examine the shuttle’s heat shield tiles. But they are no longer needed aboard the shuttles since they are being retired and was therefore permanently handed over from Endeavour to the station.

This spacewalk was the 159th in support of assembly and maintenance of the ISS which now totals more than 1000 hours of astronaut and cosmonauts work time.

Greg Chamitoff’s amazing twitpic of the ISS, Soyux and ATV
On today's spacewalk @Astro_Taz took the most amazing #ISS px ever Can't wait to see @Astro_Paolo 's from Soyuz.

Gregory Chamitoff marked the milestones with these words of tribute; “At this time, now that we’re almost done here, I wanted to say a few words. This is the last flight of the space shuttle Endeavour and it’s also the last spacewalk of shuttle crew members in station assembly.

“It’s kind of fitting that Endeavour is here because Endeavour was the first shuttle to begin construction of the station and so it’s fitting that she’s here for the last mission to finish assembly.

“During this EVA, we tallied altogether collectively over a thousand hours of spacewalks as part of station assembly. Mike and I have the honor here to share this last spacewalk and of course, with all the folks working on the ground, the thousands of people who helped build this, working in the shuttle and the station programs.

“We’re floating here on the shoulders of giants. This space station is a pinnacle of human achievement and international cooperation — 12 years of building and 15 countries. And now it’s the brightest star in the sky and hopefully the doorstep to our future. So congratulations everybody on assembly complete,” said Chamitoff.

A bright sun, a portion of the International Space Station and Earth's horizon
This image was photographed by a spacewalker, using a fish-eye lens attached to an electronic still camera, during the STS-134 mission's fourth EVA on May 27, 2011

From inside the Quest airlock, Mike Fincke took his turn and added these comments, “I wanted to say congratulations to the shuttle program for all the wonderful successes we’ve had over the past 30-something years. It’s a privilege that Endeavour’s hosting the last spacewalk by a space shuttle crew. So congratulations to the EVA development teams. We’ve come a long way. From me and Greg and the rest of the crew, congratulations.”

Today, Fincke also claimed the record for most time in space by a US astronaut, surpassing Peggy Whitson’s record of 377 days in space.

Astronaut Greg Chamitoff outside ISS during 4th EVA of STS-134. A fish-eye lens attached to an electronic still camera was used to capture this image of NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff during the mission's fourth extravehicular activity (EVA). Astronaut Michael Fincke is visible in the reflections of Chamitoff's helmet visor. Credit: NASA

Soyuz capsule docked at the ISS, twitpic from Astronaut Mike Fincke
Our ride home 4 months from now Px from @AstroIronMike on today's spacewalk #NASA #ISS #FromSpace, tweets ISS Astronaut Ron Garan

See more images at NASA’s Human Spaceflight webpage gallery, and NASA’s Image of the Day gallery.

Read my related stories about the STS-134 mission here:
Awesome Hi Def Launch Videos from Endeavour
Spectacular Soyuz Photo Gallery shows Unprecedented View Of Shuttle Docked at Station
Ultimate ISS + Shuttle + Earth Photo Op Coming on May 23 from Soyuz and Paolo Nespoli
Endeavour Blasts Off on Her 25th and Final Mission
Endeavour Unveiled for Historic Final Blastoff
Looking to the Heavens with Endeavour; Launch Pad Photo Special
Endeavour Astronauts Arrive at Cape for May 16 Launch
NASA Sets May 16 for Last Launch of Endeavour; Atlantis Slips to July
Endeavour’s Final Launch further delayed another Week or more
On the Cusp of Endeavour’s Final Flight
Brush Fires Erupt at Kennedy Space Center during Endeavour’s Last Countdown
Commander Mark Kelly and STS-134 Crew Arrive at Kennedy for Endeavour’s Final Flight
President Obama to Attend Endeavour’s Last Launch on April 29
Shuttle Endeavour Photo Special: On Top of Pad 39A for Final Flight
Endeavour Mated to Rockets for Last Flight Photo Album
Endeavour Rolls to Vehicle Assembly Building for Final Flight

About 

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calanders including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and NASA Wallops on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

Keith Nealy May 28, 2011 at 6:46 AM

Is that it??? These are the only photos? Two in high resolution? How about a link to the awesome gallery of the high resolution photos? I NEVER CAN FIND THE SOURCE ON UNIVERSE TODAY!!! IT DRIVES ME CRAZY!

EarthlingX May 28, 2011 at 8:05 AM
heliomar pedrosa May 28, 2011 at 2:09 PM

It would be possible to leave the bus for missions in orbit inter-space? Go to the Lagrange points or nearby asteroids?

Anonymous May 28, 2011 at 6:05 PM

What are you referring to? The orbiter itself? No.

There’s no means of refueling the OMS and thrusters or the H2+O2 for the fuel cells in orbit, it’s designed on the assumption that crews on the ground will do so.

If you’re not coming back, the wings are dead weight.

The SSMEs are dead weight from the moment they’re shut down, as they require start-up support gear that exists only on the launch pad, even if you had fuel present in orbit to feed them. (the inability to make an air-starttable, upper-stage version of the SSME was one of the early problems with Ares-I that drove engineers to the lower-performance J-2X, a 5-segment SRB and a slightly smaller Orion capsule ([from 5.5 to 5m diameter])

The Shuttle orbiter is just not designed for indefinite space operations. Something based on ISS and/or Bigelow modules, makes more sense.

Aqua4U May 28, 2011 at 6:59 PM

Beautiful images! Thanks for posting em…. More por favor!

That ATV is simply gorgeous. I hope the ESA chooses to man rate that crate!

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