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Spacewalk 2: Crew untangles cable on shuttle boom

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[May 19, 2010]  CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- A spacewalking astronaut freed a snagged cable on the inspection boom for shuttle Atlantis on Wednesday, accomplishing the job in a matter of minutes.

HardwareStephen Bowen tackled the cable work as soon as he floated outside on the second spacewalk of Atlantis' space station visit. It was an extra chore added just the day before.

The tangled cable had prevented the shuttle astronauts from thoroughly inspecting their ship for any possible damage from last week's launch.

Bowen's crewmates, working inside, moved the end of the 100-foot inspection boom within easy reach of Bowen.

"Keep coming. Another 6 inches or so," Bowen called out. "Perfect. Stop."

A few minutes later, he announced: "I have it unsnagged."

"Well done, superhero," shuttle pilot Dominic "Tony" Antonelli radioed from inside.

Bowen reported that the cable did not appear to be damaged. As he was tying the cord back so it wouldn't get tangled again, however, he discovered another wire tie that was already there and causing the cable to get hung up on it.

Bowen slid the loose wire tie into a position Mission Control deemed adequate. Even if it causes the cable to get tangled up again, flight controllers said it could be jerked loose and allow the camera-tilting system to operate properly.

With that completed, Bowen and his spacewalking partner, Michael Good, turned their attention to space station battery work.

Bowen and Good needed to replace three old batteries on the far left side of the International Space Station. Three more will be replaced Friday during the third and final spacewalk of Atlantis' flight.

Each battery is about 3 feet square and 375 pounds.

Atlantis delivered the fresh batteries over the weekend, along with a Russian compartment that was installed Tuesday.

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The astronauts conducted a curtailed survey of Atlantis on Saturday, the day after liftoff. NASA wanted the cable on the end of the 100-foot inspection boom fixed as soon as possible, in case there was a need for additional checks while the shuttle was still at the station.

Flight controllers have no reason to believe Atlantis was damaged during liftoff by any flyaway foam insulation. In any event, the astronauts will check the shuttle's wings and nose cap following next week's undocking for any signs of micrometeorite damage that may have occurred in orbit.

This is Atlantis' final flight as the shuttle program winds down. Only two missions remain, later this year.


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[Associated Press; By MARCIA DUNN]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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