Page last updated at 21:45 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

Spacewalk for shuttle astronauts

Two astronauts from the space shuttle Atlantis have been making the first spacewalk of their mission.

Michael Foreman and Robert Satcher managed to install a spare antenna on the International Space Station (ISS) inside the first two hours.

This was one of three spacewalks planned during the shuttle's 11-day visit, which began with a smooth docking on Wednesday.

Atlantis blasted off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center on Monday.

Already several tons of pumps, tanks and other equipment have been unloaded into the space station.

The equipment and associated spacewalks are expected to extend the lifespan of the ISS beyond tnext year's planned retirement of the shuttle fleet.

During Thursday's spacewalk, Dr Satcher - the first orthopaedic surgeon in space - lubricated spares for a robot arm.

Foreman meanwhile concentrated on using wire ties to secure the antenna cables and other equipment.

The six all-male crew of Atlantis will spend the US Thanksgiving holiday in orbit.

They will return to Earth with a seventh crew member, Nicole Stott, who has been living at the space station for nearly three months.

But this will be the last such shuttle crew rotation before the fleet's retirement.



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