NASA astronauts were able to make history recently by venturing on the final spacewalk of the agency’s 30-year shuttle program and completing assembly of the $100 billion International Space Station.
Astronauts Mike Fincke and Greg Chamitoff floated outside the orbiting Quest airlock outpost for the fourth and final spacewalk planned.
After Fincke and Chamitoff transferred the shuttle’s 50-foot (15-metre) inspection boom to the station, doubling the reach of the station’s robotic crane, shuttle commander Mark Kelly called Mission Control in Houston to mark the milestone — after 12 years of efforts.
“Space station assembly is complete,” Kelly said.
It was the last spacewalk that shuttle-bound astronauts will undertake before NASA turns over Endeavour and sister ships Discovery and Atlantis to museums. Space station crew will continue to make spacewalks for maintenance and repair tasks.
Later, Chamitoff used a special camera with a wide-angle “fish eye” lense to photograph the space station and paused to reflect on the event.
“We’re floating here on the shoulders of giants,” said Chamitoff. “This space station is the pinnacle of human achievement and international cooperation.”
Shuttle Atlantis is targeted to launch on July 8 for NASA’s 135th and final flight.
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