Astronauts to Add Camera Eyes to New Station Lab
Astronaut Ron Garan, STS-124 mission specialist, participates in the mission's first scheduled spacewalk to deliver the Japanese Kibo lab to the ISS on June 3, 2008.
Credit: NASA.

This story was updated at 7:21 a.m. EDT.

HOUSTON ? Two astronauts are set to venture outside the International Space Station (ISS) later today to add camera eyes to the orbiting lab's newest Japanese room.

Spacewalkers Mike Fossum and Ron Garan will don their NASA-issue spacesuits and step into space at about 11:32 a.m. EDT (1532 GMT) to attach a pair of video cameras to the tip of the station's $1 billion Kibo laboratory.

"Mike and I are getting ready to go out the door for our second spacewalk today," Garan said. "It's going to be a wonderful day."

Commanded by veteran spaceflyer Mark Kelly, Discovery's seven-astronaut crew attached the station's 37-foot (11 meter) Kibo laboratory on Tuesday and officially opened its roomy interior a day later. Astronauts also fixed the space station's balky Russian toilet yesterday as well.

NASA's Mission Control here at the Johnson Space Center roused Discovery's STS-124 crew with the song "I Want to Fly Away" by Lenny Kravitz, a tune chosen for Garan by his wife Carmel and their three sons

"It's good to hear that song this morning," Garan said, thanking his family.

The nearly 15-ton lab Kibo lab module is the second segment of Japan's three-piece research facility to reach space. Astronauts delivered an attic-like storage room last March during an earlier shuttle flight, though the final piece - a porch-like platform to hold exterior experiments - is not slated to launch until next year.

But Fossum and Garan will lay the groundwork for that exterior platform's arrival with the new cameras, which will be used to survey the orbital porch's experiments and aid astronauts when they wield Kibo's 33-foot (10-meter) main robotic arm. A second, smaller robotic arm is slated for delivery to Kibo on a later shuttle flight.

"We're going to carry those out of the airlock and out to the end of the Japanese lab," said Fossum, lead spacewalker for the shuttle Discovery's STS-124 mission, in a NASA interview. "There'll be several different purposes, but a big one is to look at the experiments and payloads that have on their exposed facility that will be bounced on [a] flight after ours out there."

During their planned 6.5-hour spacewalk, the second of three planned for Discovery's 14-day mission, Fossum and Garan are expected to remove a set of locks and covers from Kibo's robotic arm so astronauts can flex remotely from inside the new lab. They're also slated to prepare the rooftop docking port of Kibo for the planned Friday move of its storage module, which has sat patiently at a temporary berth on the nearby Harmony connecting node since March for the main lab's arrival.

"I don't foresee any problems working with the Japanese hardware," NASA's lead space station flight director Annette Hasbrook said Wednesday. Much of the tasks are similar to those performed during past module and laboratory deliveries, she added.

In addition to preparing Kibo's eyes and robotic arm for use in space, Fossum and Garan are expected to prime work sites for a planned Sunday spacewalk to swap out an empty nitrogen tank used to support the station's cooling system with a new one. They're also due to retrieve a broken television camera from the station's metallic backbone-like truss so astronauts can fix it inside the station and return it during the third STS-124 spacewalk.

Thursday's spacewalk will mark the fifth career excursion for Fossum, a veteran spaceflyer, and the second for Garan, who is making his first spaceflight.

NASA is broadcasting the planned launch of Discovery's STS-124 mission live on NASA TV on Saturday. Click here for SPACE.com's shuttle mission updates and NASA TV feed.