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Shuttle crew begins space station makeover

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 19, 2008
Astronauts from the shuttle Endeavour on Wednesday began to outfit the International Space Station with new equipment, as part of plans to expand the orbiting lab's living quarters, NASA said.

After a seven-hour spacewalk on Tuesday, the first of four planned, the crew could begin the "home improvement" project designed to double the station's crew capacity from three to six, NASA reported.

The astronauts continued to unload gear and supplies for the station upgrade from the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, which has a 14.5 tonne payload.

By Wednesday, the fifth day of the mission, the team had already begun the overhaul, installing a freezer and an oven for scientific experiments by NASA's Destiny Laboratory Module.

The additions will also include two new sleeping quarters, exercise equipment, a second toilet, two new ovens to heat food and a refrigerator for food and drinks.

As one NASA expert described it, the expansion will effectively turn the ISS into "a five-bedroom, two-bath house with a kitchen, and support six residents on a continuing basis."

The astronauts will also set up a machine for recycling water, turning urine into drinking water.

The 250-million-dollar device is essential for doubling the accommodation capacity, as it would be able to recycle the station's 6.8 tonnes of waste water produced each year. The water recovery system would also eliminate the need to regularly ferry vast amounts of water to the space station.

The shuttle crew was preparing for a second space walk on Thursday by astronauts Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Shane Kimbrough, during which they will continue working on a jammed joint on a solar array, NASA said.

There was a glitch with Tuesday's spacewalk effort to fix the joint, when Stefanyshyn-Piper lost her grip on a tool bag and watched as it floated off into the void of space.

NASA Television transmitted live images showing the tool bag, with all the tools inside, slipping away, after Stefanyshyn-Piper removed grease that had leaked out of a grease gun onto the bag's contents.

"Oh, great!" she said.

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Endeavour astronaut loses tools in space
Washington (AFP) Nov 18, 2008
An astronaut from the space shuttle Endeavour let slip her tool bag during a spacewalk Tuesday and watched helplessly as it floated off into the void of space, NASA said.

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