Astronauts Install Japanese Room, Assemble Robot in Space

Astronauts Install Japanese Room, Assemble Robot in Space
The Japanese Logistics Pressurized module firmly attached to the International Space Station's Harmony node. Spacewalkers worked with robotic arm operators to install the module March 14, 2008, completing the space station's 15-nation partnership on orbit. (Image credit: NASA TV)

This story was updated at 11:59 a.m. ET.

HOUSTON ? Two spacewalking astronautsworked through the night high above the Earth to install Japan's first orbital room and attach hands to a two-armed robot named Dextre.

InternationalSpace Station (ISS) flight engineer Garrett Reisman and mission specialist RickLinnehan, a member of the STS-123 space shuttle Endeavour crew, spent more thanseven hours outside of the space station to complete their on-orbitconstruction work. With astronaut Takao Doi at the controls of the shuttle'srobotic arm, their efforts left the JapaneseLogistics Pressurized module (JLP) securely latched onto the station.

"Takaoshows once again that he is the man," said Dominic Gorie, commander of theSTS-123 mission, who assisted Doi from Endeavour's flight deck. Doi, a JapanAerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut, is slated to open up thestation's newest room Friday evening and complete the space station program's15-nation partnership on orbit.

Gorie andhis crew are slated to perform at least four more spacewalks during the longeststation-bound shuttle mission NASA has ever attempted. In addition to Doi,Gorie worked with shuttle mission specialists Bob Behnken and Leopold Eyhartsto support the spacewalker's efforts.

Linnehanand Reisman's spacewalk started Thursday at 9:18 p.m. EDT (0118 GMT March 14)and wrapped up Friday morning at 4:19 a.m. EDT (0819 GMT). The excursion wasReisman's first and Linnehan's fourth, giving the veteran spaceflyer 28 hours22 minutes of total spacewalking time.

Neworbital room

Shortlyafter Linnehan and Reisman left the station's Quest airlock Thursday night,they crawled across the ISS toward Endeavour's payload bay.

Thespacewalking duo unplugged cables and removed protective covers from the9.2-ton module ? the first piece of Japan's Kibo massive three-part laboratory? making quick work of readying the cylindricalcloset, as Reisman has called it, for installation. As the spacewalkersfinished configuring the room, they witnessed an orbital sunrise.

"Goodwork guys, sun's coming up," Mike Foreman, spacewalk choreographer andSTS-123 mission specialist, told his colleagues as the sun crept over theEarth. "Check your visors."

Doi andGorie then grappled the JLP with Endeavour's robotic arm, twisting and turningthe module into place several hours later to the top of the Harmony node Fridayat 4:06 a.m. EDT (0706 GMT).

"Grappleconfirmed," mission controllers here at Johnson Space Center said as Behnken and Eyharts secured the JLP into place.


Leaving theJapanese module in shape for installation, Linnehan and Reisman moved to thepallet containing the piecesof Dextre on the Port-1 truss of the space station.

The twoastronauts unwrapped the 115-pound (52-kilogram) "hands" of therobot, known as orbital tool changeout mechanisms, and worked during the nextfour hours to bolt them onto the automaton's 662-pound (300-kilogram) arms.

In abriefing after the spacewalk, mission managers here at Johnson Space Centersaid a problem with supplying power to Dextre's pallet is likely caused by a faulty"keep alive" cable that warms vital electronics. Pierre Jean, actingprogram manager for the Canadian space station program, said grappling therobot's "head" with the space station robotic arm Friday eveningshould give it power and prove his team's hypothesis.

"We'repretty confident that 10 o'clock tonight we should have the answer to thisparticular [problem]," Jean said.

Duringtheir orbital work, Linnehan and Reisman pointed out spectacular views of Earthbelow ? atolls in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar, and Chicago's night lightsincluded.

"Don'tlook down, but over you're left shoulder is New York," Reisman toldLinnehan as they attached Dextre's hands. "You can make out Long Island sound, and you can see the whole thing at night. It's amazing."

After theastronauts finished their work and secured themselves in the safety of theairlock, spacecraft communicator Nick Patrick congratulated Doi and"Dom" Gorie on their robotic arm work.

"Greatjob to all of you on the flight deck today," Patrick said.

"Thankyou very much Nick," Doi responded. "Dom and I had a greattime."

Shuttle Endeavour launchedfrom Kennedy Space Center early Tuesday morning anddocked at the space station Wednesday night. Mission managers expect to seethe 100-ton orbiter and its seven-astronaut crew on the ground March 26 around8:33 p.m. EDT (0013 GMT March 27).

NASA is broadcastingEndeavour's STS-123 mission live on NASA TV. Click here for'sshuttle mission coverage and NASA TV feed.

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Dave Mosher is currently a public relations executive at AST SpaceMobile, which aims to bring mobile broadband internet access to the half of humanity that currently lacks it. Before joining AST SpaceMobile, he was a senior correspondent at Insider and the online director at Popular Science. He has written for several news outlets in addition to Live Science and, including:, National Geographic News, Scientific American, Simons Foundation and Discover Magazine.