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Another Section Added to Space Station

From Associated Press

Astronauts used cranes to attach another expensive piece of latticework to the international space station Tuesday, and then a team of spacewalkers went out and wired it up.

“Yee-haw!” John Herrington shouted as he hopped onto the $390-million girder. “Life is good.”

Herrington -- the first Native American in space -- and his spacewalking partner, Michael Lopez-Alegria, installed clamps, removed locks and connected electrical cables between the new segment and the rest of the space station.

It was the first of three spacewalks planned this week to install the girder that was delivered aboard the space shuttle Endeavour.

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The heavy lifting was accomplished with the help of two robot arms, one on the docked shuttle and an even bigger one on the station. The crews used the cranes to hoist the 14-ton girder from the shuttle’s payload bay and position it on the space station.

“You’ve got a happy control room down here,” Mission Control radioed.

Once the girder was securely linked to two others on the space station, shuttle crewmen Herrington and Lopez-Alegria went outside.

The spacewalkers teased each other as they worked 250 miles up. Lopez-Alegria wanted to take a picture of Herrington and told him, “Why don’t you do some work so your family won’t think you’re goofing off up here on vacation?”

By the time their seven-hour spacewalk ended, the astronauts had gotten everything done, even though they had to struggle at times with tangled tethers, snarled cables and sticky pins. “We appreciate your hard work,” Mission Control said.

The girder, a thick aluminum beam crammed with wiring and loaded with the rail cart and radiators, increased the mass of the entire space station to almost 200 tons.

With the latest 45-foot addition, the space station’s framework stretched 134 feet. By the time eight additional girders are connected over the coming year, the backbone of the orbiting outpost will exceed the length of a football field and support giant solar wings.

Herrington, a 44-year-old Navy commander and space rookie, is a member of the Chickasaw Nation. Lopez-Alegria, a 44-year-old Navy captain and veteran astronaut, was born in Spain but moved to the United States as a toddler.

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