Austronauts continue work on new Japanese space lab

Spacewalking astronauts worked on the outside of Japan’s shiny new science lab today, installing cameras and removing covers.

Dressed head to toe in white, Michael Fossum and Ronald Garan Jr undertook their second spacewalk in three days at the shuttle-station complex, orbiting 210 miles above Earth.

The 37-foot-long, 14-foot-wide lab is now the biggest room at the international space station.

“I feel like I’m on a camping trip trying to pack up a wet tent on a Sunday morning,” Fossum said as he wrestled with some of the lab’s insulation.

He and Garan removed thermal covers from the lab’s robot arm and added them to a variety of attachment points.

As the spacewalkers toiled outside, their eight colleagues hauled more experiment racks into the billion-dollar lab, called Kibo, Japanese for hope, and flight controllers near Tokyo monitored the power systems.

Even with all the racks moving in, Kibo was still noticeably bigger than the eight other rooms at the space station.

“We have not seen that much space in space since Skylab,” Mission Control told the astronauts in a written message. Skylab was NASA’s first space station, back in the 1970s.

Space shuttle Discovery’s astronauts delivered and installed Kibo earlier in the week.

There are now three labs at the orbiting complex, supplied by NASA, the European Space Agency and, now, the Japanese Space Agency.

Later today, the astronauts will attach a storage shed to Kibo that was dropped off by another shuttle crew in March.

Tomorrow, they will test drive Kibo’s 33-foot robot arm. The two TV cameras that were set up on the lab’s exterior will be instrumental in those robot-arm operations.

One last spacewalk is planned for Sunday, to replace an empty nitrogen-gas tank at the space station.

More on this topic

Houston, we have bake off: Astronauts make cookies in spaceHouston, we have bake off: Astronauts make cookies in space

Second planet could be orbiting neighbouring star just four light years awaySecond planet could be orbiting neighbouring star just four light years away

Astronomers find new class of ‘unusual objects’ near supermassive black holeAstronomers find new class of ‘unusual objects’ near supermassive black hole

Space missions set to observe violent cosmic eventsSpace missions set to observe violent cosmic events

More in this Section

Afghan passenger plane crashes in Taliban-held areaAfghan passenger plane crashes in Taliban-held area

Auschwitz burned inside my body and soul, says inmate who was two at liberationAuschwitz burned inside my body and soul, says inmate who was two at liberation

Democrats demand John Bolton gives evidence in Trump impeachment trialDemocrats demand John Bolton gives evidence in Trump impeachment trial

Italy’s regional voters thwart hopes of Matteo Salvini’s League partyItaly’s regional voters thwart hopes of Matteo Salvini’s League party


Lifestyle

It couldn't be easier to add life to soil, says Peter Dowdall.It’s good to get your hands dirty in the garden

Kya deLongchamps sees Lucite as a clear winner for collectors.Vintage View: Lucite a clear winner for collectors

Their passion for the adventures of JK Rowling’s famous wizard cast a love spell on Cork couple Triona Horgan and Eoin Cronin.Wedding of the Week: Passion for Harry Potter cast spell on Cork couple

After in-depth explainers on Watergate and the Clinton affair in seasons one and two, respectively, Slate podcast Slow Burn took a left turn in its third season, leaving behind politics to look at the Tupac-Notorious BIG murders in the mid-1990s.Podcast Corner: Notorious killings feature in Slow Burn

More From The Irish Examiner