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Godwin finds role aboard space shuttle challenging

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Cape Girardeau County native Linda Godwin took her second spacewalk Monday, spending four hours and 11 minutes outside the space shuttle Endeavour.

Godwin is loadmaster of the STS-108 shuttle mission responsible for transferring thousands of pounds of supplies to the international space station and bringing items from the space station back to Earth.

The 10 astronauts and cosmonauts circling Earth paused on Tuesday to mark the moment three months ago that the terrorists struck.

Endeavour docked with the space station Friday. It will undock on Saturday for the return trip to Earth. Weather permitting, it will return to Earth on Monday.

Godwin made her first spacewalk in 1996 while aboard Mir.

Accompanying Godwin on Monday's spacewalk was astronaut Dan Tani. The goal was to wrap thermal covers around two beer-keg-size motors that turn the space station's giant solar wings.

In addition, Godwin used pliers to attempt to move a stubborn latch into place. The latch failed to move, and engineers on the ground are trying to figure out how to move the latch on a future spacewalk.

Godwin is spending most of the rest of the docked period transferring cargo between Endeavour and the space station.

Endeavour delivered clothing, food, computer cables, spacesuits, a new set of ham radio antennas, items for experiments, medical equipment, an electric piano for one crewmember, and a six-month supply of contact lenses and solution for another. Items coming back on the shuttle include videotapes and computer hard drives filled with data, finished experiments, dirty clothing, used packing foam and other trash.

Godwin said Tuesday from space: "Being the loadmaster is pretty interesting. There are a lot of items to keep track of on the space station in the first place, and when you try to match that with shuttle things that come up and what we got up and what we're going to take back, it's a complicated list. We've got things unloaded, and we're repacking right now. It's probably the most challenging part of the mission, getting all that done."

Several pieces of cargo won't be transferred to the space station. The shuttle is flying special items in memory of those killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. They include an American flag recovered from the World Trade Center rubble, a Marine Corps flag recovered from the Pentagon, and an American flag from Pennsylvania where one of the hijacked planes crashed. Items are also being flown for the New York City fire and police departments.

In addition, the shuttle is carrying 6,000 postcard-size American flags that will be distributed to family members of those who died.

Flight director Wayne Hale led the ceremony to mark the moment the terrorists struck.

"In stark contrast to the international cooperation and unity in our efforts to take mankind literally to the stars," Hale said, "we're reminded of our loss and sorrow due to the acts of violence and terror in an unprecedented attack on freedom, democracy and civilization itself."

His words were followed by the playing of the U.S. and Russian national anthems.

Endeavour's commander, Dominic Gorie, noted during the ceremony that returning space station skipper and retired Navy Capt. Frank Culbertson will find the United States in a different mood from when he rocketed away in August.

"The amount of patriotic fervor that has taken over is just remarkable," Gorie said.

Gorie later told reporters that Culbertson has heard all about the security increases and airport congestion, so Gorie has filled him in on some of the positive effects of the Sept. 11 tragedy, like the flags flying everywhere.

"I told him when I drive down to my house, when I look at the homes along that street, probably 60 percent of those homes are flying American flags continuously, which was a really great thing to see," said Gorie, a Navy captain. "It's just a great response that our country is showing on how we respond to tragedy, and we really come together when it matters."

Culbertson has been replaced at the space station by Russian Yuri Onufrienko. Americans Daniel Bursch and Carl Walz also moved in for a six-month stay.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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