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Discovery astronauts begin space walk

The S6 truss (lower left) rests at the end of Canadarm2, the International Space Station's robotic arm. Photo credit: NASA
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) March 19, 2009
Two astronauts from the shuttle Discovery exited the International Space Station Thursday and began the first of three space walks, NASA's television commentator said.

Steve Swanson and Richard Arnold emerged from the decompression chamber aboard the space sation at 1716 GMT, three minutes behind schedule.

Their first task will be to bolt a girder onto the space station's structure. The girder, known as S6, holds a pair of panels that will form the orbiting outpost's fourth and last solar antenna.

The 14 ton piece was carried into space by Discovery, which was launched Sunday from Florida. The orbiter's robotic arm was used to lift it out of the shuttle's bay.

Once Swanson and Arnold finish bolting on S6, they will make the electrical and climatization connections necessary to activate the antenna.

The space walk is expected to last six and a half hours.

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