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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 16:43 GMT
Astronauts prepare for next spacewalk
US astronauts AP
Astronauts James Voss (left) and Bill Shepherd
Astronauts on the US space shuttle Discovery have manoeuvred a $150m (102m) cargo module into place on the International Space Station.

The Italian-built Leonardo module is carrying 5 tonnes of supplies that will be unloaded once a spacewalk planned for late on Monday has been completed.

Discovery is visiting the space platform to deliver the first replacement crew and to supply and fit new equipment.

Australian-born astronaut Andrew Thomas used the shuttle's robotic arm to attach the cargo-carrier to a temporary berth on the space station.

After attaching the module, Thomas and astronaut Paul Richards checked spacesuits and tools to be used during the mission's second spacewalk.

Record set

On Sunday, astronauts completed the first spacewalk of the mission, billed as the longest spacewalk in the 20-year history of the US space shuttle programme.

ISS: Home to the new crew until July
American astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms ventured out to do some exterior work on the space station, less than 24 hours after arriving at the orbiting complex.

The spacewalk lasted 8 hours 56 minutes. The previous longest spacewalk in the shuttle programme, in May 1992, lasted 8 hours 29 minutes.

The space shuttle is delivering the first replacement crew for the space station, made up of Voss, Helms and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Usachev.

Minor problems

James Voss and Susan Helms had to deal with a few minor glitches during the first spacewalk, which began shortly after midnight Saturday and had been scheduled to last about 7 hours.

The return of the astronauts was delayed until flight controllers determined their help was not needed in relocating a docking port in order to make way for a module filled with supplies.

The first words spoken by Helms on her spacewalk were "Uh, oh". A plastic bag holding a hydrazine-detection kit was drifting away, after breaking loose from Discovery.

Jim Voss tried to grab the bag, but it was just outside his reach. He finally managed it by getting a quick lift on the shuttle robot arm. But a portable attachment device needed for a work platform did get away when Voss accidentally let go of it.

His shuttle crewmates told him not to worry about it and that a spare was available.

Four-month stay

The space station's new three-member crew will remain aboard the space station until late July.

Usachev has already moved into the space station, while the Americans will join him over the next few days.

They will relieve the current three-member crew of commander Bill Shepherd and two Russian cosmonauts.

The current crew have been on the space station since 2 November.

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See also:

10 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Discovery docks with space station
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