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The BBC's Fiona Werge
"A spacewalk critical to the future of the international space station"
 real 56k

Sunday, 22 April, 2001, 20:35 GMT 21:35 UK
Shuttle astronauts armed and ready
Astronaut Chris Hadfield and Scott Parazynski
Chris Hadfield and Scott Parazynski work on 'Big Arm'
Space shuttle Endeavour's crew have completed the delicate process of attaching a massive robot arm to the international space station.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and US astronaut Scott Parazynski spent more than seven hours unfolding the arm from the shuttle bay and wiring it up.

The 'Big Arm'
Can lift the weight of an entire space shuttle
Each of its seven joints can rotate 270 degrees forward or backward
Will be used to attach an airlock to the ISS and fit solar power panels

"It looks real good," said Hadfield, the first Canadian to walk in space.

The astronauts sped through their chores, hooking up power, data and video cables for the new space station arm and then installing a radio antenna on the orbiting laboratory.

The 58-foot Canadian-built arm is critical to the continued construction of the space station.

The arm is the most advanced robotic device ever sent into space
The $1bn arm will act as a high-tech construction crane, able to walk end-over-end and use both ends as 'hands' to add pieces to the station.

It is the most advanced robotic device ever sent into space.

It is also so long that it had to be folded to fit inside Endeavour's payload bay.

And it is so heavy - 3,618lb of aluminium, steel and graphite epoxy - that it could not support its own weight on Earth.

Fresh fruit and electrical supplies

On Saturday Endeavour docked with the station, bringing Alpha's crew of three their first visitors since they arrived in March for a 4 1/2-month stay.

Shuttle docked successfully on Saturday
But the two crews will not meet face to face until Monday, as the hatch between Endeavour and the station remained closed to maintain different cabin pressures.

They did, however, exchange items through an outer station compartment, including mail, fresh fruit and electrical cords.

During their 11-day mission, the shuttle astronauts will also attach an Italian-built cargo carrier Raffaello to the station to start unloading 10,000 pounds (4,500 kilograms) of supplies

It will be the second of three Italian cargo carriers to be launched to the space station. Leonardo hauled up supplies last month.

The space station, under construction since 1998, is scheduled to be completed in 2006.

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See also:

21 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Endeavour docks with space station
19 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Endeavour lifts off with space crane
07 Feb 01 | Sci/Tech
Destiny lab lifts off
02 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Crew enters historic home
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