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The BBC's Stephen Sackur reports
"A gruelling six hour space walk"
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Monday, 22 May, 2000, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
Flying start for Atlantis crew
voss
Voss and Williams had a long list of jobs
Spacewalking astronauts on the shuttle Atlantis completed their first day of work on the International Space Station (ISS) in copybook style.

James Voss and Jeffrey Williams spent nearly seven hours working outside the 333-km (208-mile) high space station.


The Atlantis crew
Commander James Halsell Jr
Susan Helms
Jeffrey Williams
Yuri Usachev
James Voss
Scott Horowitz
Mary Ellen Weber
Jobs included securing a loose crane, assembling a hefty Russian boom and mounting it to the side of the space station and replacing a failed antenna.

With the outside tasks finished, the crew of six Americans and one Russian will enter the space station on Monday to begin more than three days of repairs.


voss
Upside down outside: Jim Voss gets a new perspective on his work
Scott Bleisath, a spacewalk director for Nasa, said: "This spacewalk was a good example of what future spacewalks are going to look like, where we will need to perform maintenance on the space station."

Within hours of docking on Sunday, Williams and Voss had suited up and left the Atlantis space shuttle to start repairs to the exterior of the ISS.

A crane installed last spring was never locked properly into its socket, allowing it to swivel back and forth.

'All right!'

Williams and Voss removed the crane from its socket, then shoved it back in with a twist.

They tugged at it, and it was no longer wobbly. "All right!'' they shouted. The job took mere minutes.


The tasks
Repair construction crane
Complete assembly of a larger crane
Replace failed antenna
Put ISS into higher orbit
Replace solar batteries
The crane will be used by future crews to move large items around the outside of the orbiting $60bn complex, which Nasa hopes will eventually extend the length of a football field and top more than 450 tonnes.

More than 100 different steps will be required to finish the work in space.

Top priority on Monday will be replacing four of six solar-charged batteries that have begun to fail since the first two space-station components were linked in orbit in December 1998.

Boosted orbit

During five days of docked operations, mission commander James Halsell and Scott Horowitz will use the shuttle's thrusters to boost the orbit of the ISS to about 380 km.


Atlantis Pilot Scott Horowitz
Fixing a peanut butter sandwich: Atlantis Pilot Scott Horowitz
The station has been losing about 2.4 km (1.5 miles) of orbit each week as it is dragged down by the Earth's atmosphere.

In all, about half a tonne of gear must be hauled into the space station for use by future crews.

The earliest anyone will move in is November, 2.5 years late because of the conspicuous absence of Russia's service module.

The module, once launched, will serve as crew quarters until fancier accommodations arrive in 2005. About 45 more spacewalks are required before the ISS is complete.

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See also:

19 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Atlantis takes off at last
26 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Shuttle launch attempt abandoned
22 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Countdown for shuttle mission
19 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Shuttle ready for repair mission
11 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
Russia names ISS launch date
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