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Astronauts take mission's 3rd and final spacewalk

September 5, 2009 7:27:40 PM PDT
Two spacewalking astronauts took on shelving and antenna jobs at the international space station Saturday in their final trek outside. For the second time in three days, lead spacewalker Danny Olivas and his partner Christer Fuglesang ventured out to work on the outpost, orbiting 220 miles above the planet.

They quickly made their way out along a girder and pulled open a shelf that will be used to store big spare parts later this year. Olivas helped install the framework on the right side of the space station two years ago.

"It's like old times, huh, Danny?" astronaut Patrick Forrester asked from inside.

"You're right, Pat, this is like being at home," Olivas replied.

An identical shelf on the opposite side of the space station jammed when astronauts tried to pull it open back in March. It took a special tool and another mission to get the shelf open. Olivas and Fuglesang had the tool with them in case they ran into trouble, but the job went smoothly.

NASA loaded Saturday night's spacewalk - the third and final one of Discovery's space station visit - with all sorts of odds and ends.

Besides the shelf work, the spacewalkers put up new Global Positioning System antennas and replaced some old electronic devices. Their last chore, coming up late Saturday, involved laying 60 feet of cable for a future space station chamber.

During the first two spacewalks, astronauts gave the orbiting complex a fresh tank of coolant.

Fuglesang, a Swede, is the only non-American on Discovery's seven-person crew. But the space station has one Belgian, one Canadian, two Russians and two Americans living on it. The combined crews make for a record-tying crowd of 13 in space.

Saturday night's spacewalk was the last major job for the seven shuttle astronauts before they depart Tuesday. Their 13-day flight is scheduled to end with a landing back in Florida on Thursday.

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On the Net:

NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/mission(underscore)pages/shuttle/main/index.html

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