Astronauts Install Oxygen Tank on Airlock

STS-129 Mission Specialist Robert Satcher Jr., following the installation of a high-pressure oxygen tank onto the International Space Station's air lock, November 23, 2009. Atlantis space shuttle NASA space EVA robot arm NASA TV

Last Updated 3:10 p.m. ET

Atlantis astronauts completed their third and final spacewalk of their mission Monday, taking care of some installation and maintenance jobs at the International Space Station.

Mission Specialists Randy Bresnik and Robert Satcher Jr. wrapped up their 5-hour, 42-minute spacewalk at 2:06 p.m. ET.

"Houston, this concludes STS-129's EVAs," astronaut Michael Foreman radioed from inside the shuttle-station complex. "Hopefully, we came and left station in a better place than what it was before we got here."

During the EVA, the two astronauts transferred and installed a High Pressure Gas Tank (HPGT), used to replenish oxygen lost when spacewalkers enter and exit the station.

Satcher and Bresnik got started on their work an hour late but made up for lost time, quickly getting ahead in their main chore, the installation of the fresh oxygen tank. The 1,200-lb. tank of high-pressure oxygen, delivered last week by Atlantis, was attached to the NASA station's air lock.

At one point lightning storms caught Bresnik's eye as he toiled 220 miles up. "Where we over?" he called out. The answer: Micronesia.

Bresnik also completed installation of the MISSE 7 experiment on Express Logistics Carrier 2. This is the latest in a series of experiments that expose materials and composite samples to space for several months before they are returned for analysis. This experiment could potentially lead to stronger spacecraft materials and other applications on Earth.

This is the most advanced MISS payload to date, using the station's communications system to send commands and downlink real-time data.

Bresnik praised Foreman, who carried out two earlier spacewalks with both him and Satcher, for being a "phenomenal mentor and leader, that's why we arrived at the point where first-time fliers could take off the training wheels and (go out) for an EVA. Thank you, Mike."

The final spacewalk of STS-129 was delayed when a valve on the drink bag in Satcher's suit came off as he was getting ready for the EVA. To everyone's relief, the valve to the water pouch went back on tightly. The concern was that big blobs of water could float up and get in his eyes if the valve came loose during the spacewalk.

The first two EVAs of Atlantis' weeklong space station visit went so well, and the astronauts accomplished so much extra work, that only a few chores remained.

(NASA TV)
This is the 136th spacewalk devoted to station assembly and maintenance since construction began in 1998, the 17th this year and the third and final excursion planned by the Atlantis astronauts.

It is the second spacewalk for Satcher and Bresnik.

(Left: The International Space Station's robotic arm moves into position to grapple a high-pressure oxygen tank, to be installed onto the NASA station's air lock by astronauts Satcher and Bresnik.)

CBS News space analyst Bill Harwood reports that Bresnik is celebrating the birth of his daughter, Abigail Mae. She arrived just hours after his first-ever spacewalk Saturday.

Bresnik's wife, Rebecca, delivered the six-pound, 13-ounce girl back in Houston. Both baby and mother were said to be doing well.

"Everyone in Houston, I got to see my little girl for the first time yesterday," Bresnik said, "and I know there were a myriad of people across a lot of disciplines at JSC and the hospital staff that worked to make that happen. They were just amazing. ... So thank you to my wonderful wife for bringing her into the world.

"It was the most wonderful thing I've seen since I left Earth."

Atlantis and its crew of seven will depart the space station Wednesday. The shuttle will aim for a landing back at Kennedy Space Center on Friday.


For more info:
CBS News space analyst Bill Harwood's "Space Place" updates
Space Shuttle Main Page (NASA)
International Space Station Main Page (NASA)
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