Changing Of The (Space) Guard

space station commander Ken Bowersox AP

It's been almost six days since shuttle Endeavour left Earth, four days since it arrived at the International Space Station, but the outgoing and incoming station crews only Friday held their change of command ceremony.

"It's a very important day in the life of the station and in the lives of all the crew members here, because we not only change command of the station, but we are changing the crews that will live aboard, said American Ken Bowersox, the new commander. "The Expedition Five crew has done tremendous work. They've set a standard that is going to be difficult for any crew in the future to equal."

The Expedition Six crew actually took charge a few hours after Monday's docking, reports CBS News Correspondent Peter King, but the ceremony is usually held several days into the mission so the astronauts can concentrate on their work.

Bowersox, Don Pettit, and Russian Nicolai Budarin are scheduled for a four-month stay. The Expedition Five crew of two Russians and American Peggy Whitson will come home aboard the shuttle after more than six months in orbit.

A spacewalking astronaut celebrated Thanksgiving by taking a thrilling ride on the international space station's robot arm from one side of the orbiting complex to the other.

John Herrington clutched a 600-pound rail car as the robot arm swung him in a 180-degree arc Thursday evening so he could relocate the wagon. He hooted and shouted, "Oh my goodness," as he gazed down at Earth below.

It was NASA's first Thanksgiving Day spacewalk and the second one this week for Herrington, the first American Indian in space, and Michael Lopez-Alegria.

The two astronauts, visiting from the docked space shuttle Endeavour, hooked up the plumbing on the space station's newest addition, a $390 million high-tech beam. They quickly connected the pair of lines, which eventually will contain ammonia for cooling the outpost.

The highlight of the six-hour spacewalk came at the very end, when Herrington took his memorable ride.

Herrington anchored his feet at the end of the space station's 58-foot robot arm and lifted the rail cart that was launched atop the beam. Astronauts inside slowly steered Herrington, with the wagon tight in his hands, to the girder on the opposite end, some 50 feet away, so he could fasten the cart to an identical one already there.

"I never thought I'd be doing this in my life - wow," Herrington said.
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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