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Third STS-134 spacewalk underwayposted May 25, 2011 1:02 a.m. CDT

Another day of spacewalk activities has begun for the shuttle Endeavour and International Space Station crews today.

The nine astronauts woke at 6:56 p.m. CDT Tuesday to the song "Real World" by Matchbox 20, played for shuttle pilot Greg Johnson.

Shortly after waking up, the crew turned their focus to today's spacewalk, the third of four planned during the STS-134 mission.

Spacewalkers Andrew Feustel and Mike Fincke tried out a new procedure before venturing outside. Normally, they'd have spent the previous night sleeping in the station's Quest airlock at a reduced atmosphere to purge their bodies of nitrogen in order to avoid decompression sickness or the bends.

The new procedure, the In-Suit Light Exercise (ISLE), allowed Feustel and Fincke to sleep as they would on a non-spacewalk day. After waking up, the astronauts wore a mask to breathe pure oxygen for one hour as the air pressure in the airlock was lowered to 10.2 psi. They then donned their spacesuits and performed light exercise, such as small leg motions, for 50 minutes to increase their metabolic rate.

"This is what we call the slow-motion hokey-pokey," said lead spacewalk officer Allison Bolinger during a media briefing on Tuesday.

The spacewalk got underway at 12:43 a.m. on Wednesday as Fincke and Feustel took their spacesuits to battery power.

"Welcome everyone to EVA 3, also a very important spacewalk," radioed spacewalk choreographer Greg Chamitoff. "Couple of main things getting work done in power sharing between the U.S. and the Russian segment and setting up a grapple fixture for the robotic arm so we can do work with the robotic arm also on the Russian segment, and also a couple of other tasks beyond that as well."

The spacewalk is mostly focused on maintenance and installation tasks, many on the Russian segment. Feustel and Fincke will install a power and data grapple fixture, a video signal converter and various cables onto the Zarya functional cargo block (FGB), the station's first module.

They will also install an antenna, perform imagery documentation of a science experiment and time permitting the crew will tuck a small piece of insulation on a cargo transport container.

Today's spacewalk is the 247th made by U.S. astronauts and the 158th in support of space station assembly and maintenance. This is Feustel's sixth spacewalk and the eighth for Fincke.

Wow, it is great to be back outside," remarked Fincke at the start of the spacewalk. "We have the most beautiful planet in the universe."

"Nice view, isn't it?" replied Feustel.
Third STS-134 spacewalk endsposted May 25, 2011 7:49 a.m. CDT

Spacewalking astronauts working outside the International Space Station early Wednesday morning ran power cables and installed an attach point for the station's robotic arm on the Russian Zarya functional cargo block (FGB), the sprawling complex's first component.

STS-134 spacewalkers Drew Feustel and Mike Fincke also finished work that began on the mission's first excursion, connecting power cables to a wireless network antenna, and then collected infrared video of a new form of multi-layer insulation that uses Aerogel and installed a cover on a high pressure gas tank outside the Quest airlock.

Accomplishing everything they set out to do, the two astronauts entered the airlock and began its repressurization at 7:37 a.m. CDT, marking the end of their extravehicular activity, the third of four planned during shuttle Endeavour's final mission.


The two ran into only a couple of brief snags during their 6 hours and 54 minutes outside. Fincke lost track of his safety tether, needing Feustel's help to get it untethered and then Feustel got something in his eye.

"My right eye is stinging like crazy right now," Feustel said. "It's watering a lot. Must have gotten something [in it]."

On Earth or even inside the station, he could just rub his eye, but with a helmet in the way, Feustel had little recourse.

"If I keep my right eye closed, I'm fine," he said.

"But if it happens to your left eye, you won't be able to see at all," replied Greg Chamitoff, the spacewalk's choreographer.

Even Feustel's own natural bodily responses were not helping.

"The problem with tears in space is that they do not fall off of your eye," he observed.

"I hate that," replied Fincke. "They just kind of stay there. A little surface tension action."

Finally, Feustel found relief from a small piece of molded rubber intended to help pinch his nose to clear changes in pressure.

"I just rubbed my eye against the valsalva, that helped a bit," he said.

A minute or so later Feustel added, "The rubbing helped a lot. I've got my eyes open now."

Able to resume work, Feustel recalled another astronaut who experienced something similar.

"I remember my good buddy Chris Hadfield talking to me about that once happening to him," said Feustel.

"Yeah, like on his first EVA," replied Fincke.

"He was blind for a while. I was only blind in one eye for a while," Feustel said.

This spacewalk was the 247th by U.S. astronauts and, since 1998, the 158th supporting International Space Station assembly and maintenance, increasing the total time spent working outside the ISS to 995 hours and 13 minutes.

This was the eighth spacewalk for Fincke, who with Chamitoff will return outside for the mission's fourth spacewalk on Thursday evening.

Today's excursion was the sixth for Feustel, who now has a total time of 42 hours and 18 minutes spacewalking, ranking him 14th among the 201 astronauts, cosmonauts and taikonauts who have worked in the vacuum of space on extravehicular activities (EVAs).

"This isn't our last EVA, but it is my last EVA for a while, so thanks to the whole team for getting us trained, getting us prepared and for all the support from Houston we got today," said Feustel. "It was a great day."

"Drew, you're an awesome spacewalker and it has been a pleasure being on two spacewalks with you. Congratulations bud," said Fincke.
New views of Endeavour's last launchposted May 25, 2011 7:59 p.m. CDT

NASA on Wednesday released the video captured by cameras mounted on each of space shuttle Endeavour's solid rocket boosters showing the launch of the orbiter on STS-134 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on May 16.

The video also documents the SRBs' separation and subsequent landing in the Atlantic Ocean.

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