Image: Spacewalk work
NASA TV  /  AFP - Getty Images
Atlantis spacewalker Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper prepares a radiator for deployment on the international space station Friday.
updated 9/15/2006 5:32:51 PM ET 2006-09-15T21:32:51

Space shuttle Atlantis' astronauts wrapped up the third and final spacewalk of their flight Friday, completing installation of a 17 1/2-ton piece of the international space station and doing some other fix-it jobs on the outside.

Astronauts Joe Tanner and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper unpacked a radiator for the space station's new 240-foot solar arrays during the 6-hour, 41-minute spacewalk. The spacewalkers also gathered up a science experiment, replaced an antenna and took video of the space shuttle's heat shield.

It was the second spacewalk of the mission for both astronauts, who earlier in the week worked like electricians, hooking up wires and cables to the space station's new addition.

“We have to say, what a wonderful job you both did today,” Pam Melroy in Mission Control told them after they were back inside the space station’s airlock.

The radiator will be a key part of the space station’s solar energy arrays, dissipating the heat generated by the solar panels’ electronics.

Piper and Tanner had started the installation of the $372 million solar panel addition to the space station in their first spacewalk, and on Friday wrapped up the third and final outing of Atlantis’ 11-day mission. It was the first construction mission to the space station since the 2003 Columbia disaster.

A minor glitch delayed the spacewalkers Friday morning, but it was fixed after about 45 minutes.

“Oh, that’s a beautiful view,” Piper said as she floated out of the spacecraft.

Atlantis delivered a 17.5-ton truss with two solar panel wings that were unfurled on Thursday. The panels will eventually provide a quarter of the space station’s power. However, they won’t begin generating electricity until the power system is rewired during the next space shuttle mission, which is scheduled for December.

“You just can’t imagine a flight going as well as this one has gone,” said lead space station flight director John McCullough. “I couldn’t ask for a better start — a restart — to assembly.”

As they worked on the radiator, Tanner took a moment to appreciate the view.

“Kind of nice up here,” he said.

“Didn’t get a chance to look around much,” Piper said. “At least I can say I’ve been here.”

“Not too many people have,” Tanner said.

The two also picked up a science experiment that tested how various materials fare in space.

The delay was due to a surge of electricity that activated a circuit breaker. The spacewalking astronauts spend time in a depressurized room to rid their bodies of nitrogen and avoid decompression sickness, and the depressurization pump in that room shut down with the surge. NASA determined the pump did not short and simply restarted it, said spokesman Bill Jeffs.

There also was a temporary glitch with Piper’s spacesuit — the oxygen pressure dropped momentarily, but it came back up.

The astronauts woke up to the rock hit “Hotel California” by the Eagles, a song Tanner’s family dedicated to him.

“That song reminds me of some great traveling adventures, sort of like this one,” Tanner said. “It’s gonna be a great day.”

When Atlantis undocks from the space station on Sunday, the astronauts will fly around it and examine their handiwork, said Mike Suffredini, space station program manager.

This will be the first time since the Columbia broke apart that a crew will be able to do that. Besides the aesthetic benefits, NASA will also be able to check up on areas of the station its engineers don’t normally see — something they aim to do at least once a year.

The crew is scheduled to land back on Earth on Wednesday.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Atlantis coverage


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