Astronauts to Add Camera Eyes to New Station Lab

STS-124 Mission Update: Part 1
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. (Image credit: NASA.)

This story was updated at7:21 a.m. EDT.

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

Spacewalkers Mike Fossumand Ron Garan will don their NASA-issue spacesuits and step into space at about11:32 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 aregetting ready to go out the door for our second spacewalk today," Garan said."It's going to be a wonderful day."

Commanded by veteranspaceflyer Mark Kelly, Discovery's seven-astronaut crew attached the station's37-foot (11 meter) Kibo laboratory on Tuesday and officially opened its roomy interiora day later. Astronauts also fixed the space station's balky Russian toiletyesterday as well.

NASA's Mission Control hereat 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 hiswife Carmel and their three sons

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

The nearly 15-ton lab Kibolab module is the second segment of Japan's three-piece research facility toreach space. Astronauts delivered an attic-like storage roomlast March during an earlier shuttle flight, though the final piece - aporch-like platform to hold exterior experiments - is not slated to launchuntil next year.

But Fossum and Garan willlay 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 astronautswhen they wield Kibo's 33-foot (10-meter) main robotic arm. A second, smallerrobotic arm is slated for delivery to Kibo on a later shuttle flight.

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

During their planned6.5-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'srobotic arm so astronauts can flex remotely from inside the new lab. They'realso slated to prepare the rooftop docking port of Kibo for the planned Fridaymove of its storage module, which has sat patiently at a temporary berth on thenearby Harmony connecting node since March for the main lab's arrival.

"I don't foresee anyproblems working with the Japanese hardware," NASA's lead spacestation flight director Annette Hasbrook said Wednesday. Much of the tasks aresimilar to those performed during past module and laboratory deliveries, sheadded.

In addition to preparingKibo's eyes and robotic arm for use in space, Fossum and Garan are expected toprime work sites for a planned Sunday spacewalk to swap out an empty nitrogentank used to support the station's cooling system with a new one. They're alsodue to retrieve a broken television camera from the station's metallicbackbone-like truss so astronauts can fix it inside the station and return itduring the third STS-124 spacewalk.

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

NASA is broadcasting theplanned launch of Discovery's STS-124 mission live on NASA TV on Saturday. Click here for'sshuttle mission updates and NASA TV feed.


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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.