Astronauts Speed Through Second Spacewalk

Astronauts Speed Through Second Spacewalk
Mission Specialists Mike Foreman and Randy Bresnik work outside the International Space Station during the second spacewalk of the STS-129 mission.
(Image: © NASA TV)

This story was updated at 5:18 p.m. ET.

Two astronauts raced through the second spacewalk of theirdocked shuttle mission at the International Space Station Saturday, getting sofar ahead of schedule they took on jobs scheduled for future excursions.

"Today was fantastic," said lead flight directorBrian Smith in a briefing following the spacewalk. "We got everything wewanted to get done accomplished, and a few more things as well."

STS-129 astronauts Mike Foreman, a veteran spacewalker, andRandy Bresnik, making his first-ever foray outside of a spacecraft, finishedtheir spacewalk in about six hours, completing station maintenance work andinstalling two cargo-stowage fixtures on the outsideof the space station.

"Other than seeing my wifefor the first time, I don?t think I've ever seen a more beautiful sight,"Bresnik said after exiting the station's airlock and viewing planet Earth belowhim.

Baby watch

The sight wasn't the only first for Bresnik today. While hewas spacewalking, Bresnik's wife, Rebecca, was laboring to give birth to hisfirst daughter, the couple's second child. The astronaut agreed withMission Control to delay news about the baby until after the spacewalk had beencompleted, so he could concentrate on the challenging task at hand. Thoughafter the space venture finished the baby had still not yet been born.

"The Bresnik launch countdown clock has got some unpredictableand variable holds in it," Smith said. "We certainly wish them allthe best and hope that soon their baby is born."

Smith said Bresnik was completely professional, and as aNASA astronaut and former Marine Corps fighter pilot, he had learned tocompartmentalize.

"He absolutely stayed 100 percent focused," Smithsaid. "You can just look at the results of the spacewalk."

Getting ahead

The spacewalkers began their outing about half an hour late,at 9:31 a.m. EST (1431 GMT), because of afalse alarm that woke the astronauts Friday evening. The erroneous warningbell was the second in two nights, and mission managers think they might berelated to a new Russian module called Poisk that was installed recently on thestation.

The event delayed spacewalk preparations and forced NASA toshorten the excursion from a planned 6 1/2 hours. Nonetheless, the astronautsaccomplished all they set out to do and more.

"They're really kicking butt on the timelinehere," said STS-129 commander Charlie Hobaugh from inside the station,when the spacewalkers were about an hour ahead of schedule. "Great work,you and Comrade both," he told Foreman, referring to Bresnik by his callsign.

Hobaugh suggested the pair install a second cargo platformpoint near where they attached the first one, after they had breezed throughthat task. The spacewalkers were game, and Mission Control agreed to moveforward with the task, which was originally scheduled for the mission's thirdspacewalk on Monday.

Foreman and Bresnik accomplished that some other minortasks, including installing a wireless video camera system and relocating apiece of hardware on the outside of the station to make way for work on futuremissions. The two spacewalkers returned back inside the station and locked thehatch behind them, officially ending the outing at 3:39 p.m. EST (2039 GMT).

The event marked the fifth career spacewalk for Foreman, whonow has a total of 32 hours, 19 minutes of spacewalking time under his belt.Bresnik, the rookie, clocked 6 hours, 8 minutes of spacewalking time today.

The shuttle crew plans to stay at the space station untilWednesday, when they will undock and land aboard Atlantis on Friday, afterThanksgiving. The STS-129 mission is an 11-dayspace trip intended to supply the station with a load of spare parts toprepare it for the era after the shuttles retire in about a year.

SPACE.com is providing complete coverage of Atlantis'STS-129 mission to the International Space Station with Staff Writer ClaraMoskowitz and Managing Editor Tariq Malik based in New York. Click here for shuttle missionupdates and a link to NASA TV.

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