Astronauts Poised for Mission's Last Spacewalk
Atlantis shuttle astronaut Robert Satcher Jr., STS-129 mission specialist, holds a camera during his mission's first spacewalk of his mission to the International Space Station on Nov. 19, 2009.
Credit: NASA

Two astronauts, one a proud new dad for the second time, will venture outside the International Space Station Monday on the third and last spacewalk of their mission.

Atlantis shuttle astronauts Randy Bresnik - whose new daughter Abigail was born late Saturday back home - and Robert Satcher, Jr. plan to spend about 6 1/2 hours working outside the station to install a new oxygen gas tank, materials experiment and other gear. The orbital work was slated to begin at about 7:18 a.m. EST (1218 GMT), but may be delayed a bit due to a problem with the drink bag in Satcher's spacesuit.

During his first-ever spacewalk Saturday, Bresnik said the extravehicular activity (EVA) - as NASA calls it - was the second-most stunning experience of his life, ranking just below the first time he saw his wife Rebecca. But after seeing the first pictures of his baby girl, he expected that to change. The couple also has one son, Wyatt, age 3.

?I think once I get to see the pictures today of our new daughter, EVA is going to have to take a third place,? Bresnik said Sunday. He must wait until after Atlantis lands Friday to meet his daughter in person for the first time.

Bresnik and Satcher will each make the second spacewalk of their careers on Monday?s spacewalk. The excursion will include the installation of a high-pressure oxygen tank near the station?s airlock, adding a suitcase-like materials experiment to one of the new spare parts platforms delivered on their mission, checking the position of some micrometeorite debris shields and other chores.

?We?re looking forward to that and I?m definitely looking forward to getting out and doing another spacewalk,? Satcher told reporters Sunday via a video link.

Satcher, the first orthopedic surgeon in space, said his medical training has come in handy.

?My training as a surgeon, I think,? has actually helped me in terms of being able to do the spacewalk,? Satcher said. ?A lot of the point of being able to do a spacewalk is the ability to stay focused and multitask in a strenuous environment, in a spacesuit that is really miniature spaceship.?

Monday?s spacewalk is the third and last excursion for the six astronauts aboard Atlantis, who are delivering about 15 tons of spare parts and supplies to the space station. The astronauts launched Nov. 16 and are due to depart the space station Wednesday and land Friday at NASA?s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Mission Control roused the crew early Monday with the song ?Space Rise? by Larry Whitehair, a friend of Atlantis astronaut Mike Foreman.

?It makes a fantastic mission that much more special, and we appreciate it,? Foreman said. ?Thanks very much Larry.? is providing complete coverage of Atlantis' STS-129 mission to the International Space Station with Staff Writer Clara Moskowitz and Managing Editor Tariq Malik based in New York. Click here for shuttle mission updates and a link to NASA TV.