Two members of the Space Shuttle Discovery crew spent nearly seven hours repairing the International Space Station, accompanying their hard work with some goodnatured repartee.
Like the helpful service station attendants of yore, British astronaut Piers Sellers and US astronaut Michael Fossum joked, while they fixed a cable reel necessary for the operation of a railcar attached to the ISS. The railcar enables expansion of the ISS.
They swapped a defective reel with a new one brought aboard the shuttle; each one weighs 330 pounds on Earth. In orbit, they still have substantial mass and inertia, so there were a few tense moments while Sellers, like an orbital “weight lifter,” held one in each hand.
The two also learned that for space mechanics, elbow grease still works just as well as for earthbound ones. To get the reels swapped, they had to twist harder with a wrench to loosen stubborn bolts.
CNN has an account of the repairs and spacewalk.
Discovery is scheduled to return to Earth on the 17th.