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Astronauts Repairing Space Station

October 10, 2002

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ Two spacewalking astronauts floated outside and wired up a new $390 million girder to the international space station on Thursday.

David Wolf and Piers Sellers shouted, ``Yippee!″ and ``Excellent!″ when it was time to get to work on the 45-foot-long, 14-ton girder that arrived with them aboard space shuttle Atlantis on Wednesday.

Wolf connected power and data cables, as Sellers released the locks on the three folded-up radiators mounted to the girder.

Sellers, a first-time spacewalker, marveled at the view more than 240 miles below.

``Where am I?″ Sellers asked. When told he was flying over the Pacific and coming up on South America, he observed, ``Wow _ it’s too beautiful for words _ unbelievable.″ After a two-second pause, he said, ``That’s it, back to work.″

The construction work began first thing Thursday morning, when Peggy Whitson and Sandra Magnus used the station’s robot arm to lift the girder from Atlantis’ cargo bay and neatly put it in place next to a similar frame that was installed last spring. A mechanical claw and motorized bolts locked the pieces together. That was the cue for the spacewalk to begin.

Wolf encountered some stiff bolts; one broke into five pieces, and he managed to catch them before they floated off.

Like the girder delivered in April, this one has tracks for transporting the space station’s robot arm via railcar. Atlantis also delivered a railcar that future spacewalkers will use to get from one end of the sprawling complex to the other.

Wolf and Sellers will go back outside Saturday and Monday to complete the installation work.

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On the Net:

NASA: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov

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