Spacewalk No. 2 unfolds on 40th moon anniversary

NASA begins 202nd spacewalk by Americans since the Apollo 11 lunar excursion.

Reuters/NASA TV
Astronaut Dave Wolf prepares to climb aboard a foot restraint on the International Space Station's robot arm during his projected more than six-hour spacewalk.

The astronauts aboard the shuttle-station complex celebrated the 40th anniversary of man’s first moon landing with their own spacewalk Monday, heading outside to stockpile some big spare parts.

In the second outing of their mission, David Wolf and Thomas Marshburn emerged from the international space station 220 miles above the planet. The spacewalk unfolded 40 years to the day that two other astronauts — Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin — strolled the moon’s dusty surface.

It was the 202nd spacewalk by Americans since the Apollo 11 lunar excursion.

“How cool,” astronaut Julie Payette said to mark the big day.

As Wolf and Marshburn got started on the job, the astronauts inside added some new parts to fix a broken toilet. The repairs were successful, to everyone’s relief.

The commode — one of three on the linked station and shuttle Endeavour — stopped working Sunday after a pump separator flooded. It was out of action for about 24 hours.

NASA wanted the station commode working again as soon as possible. With a record number of people on board — 13 — having three working toilets is crucial.

Complicating matters was the fact that Endeavour cannot eject any waste water while it’s docked to the space station. The water would spray all over the newly attached porch on the Japanese lab, and possibly corrode it. With the toilet fixed, there was no longer any worry about coming close to filling Endeavour’s waste water tank.

The spare parts being attached to the space station Monday — an antenna, pump and engine for a rail car — were hauled up by Endeavour.

NASA wants to have as many extra pieces up there as possible so that when the shuttles stop flying, the station will be able to get along without their big deliveries. None of the other spacecraft that visit the outpost can hold nearly as much cargo as the shuttle.

Monday’s spacewalk was much quieter than the one Saturday. Loud static filled the airwaves throughout the earlier excursion and made it difficult to hear the spacewalkers, the result of improperly positioned microphones in the helmet of one of the men. The cap with those microphones will not be used again.

Three more spacewalks are planned during Endeavour’s station visit, which ends July 28.

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