Astronauts wrap up work on space station's girder

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's most experienced spacewalker and his rookie partner wrapped up work on the international space station's new 44-foot girder Tuesday and hung powerful floodlights outside the orbiting outpost.

It was the fourth and final spacewalk for the visiting astronauts of space shuttle Atlantis, who are due to leave today.

"Sure beats the dollar an hour I used to get for baling hay," said Jerry Ross, an Indiana farmboy making his ninth spacewalk.

Ross and Lee Morin ventured out for the second time in four days.

Ross is flying for the seventh time in space, a world record, and may not get an eighth because of all the other astronauts in line. His nine spacewalks, totaling 58 hours, are a U.S. record.

As the 6 1/2-hour spacewalk came to an end, Ross received warm congratulations from his crewmates.

Ross and Morin -- nicknamed the Silver Team by their crewmates because they are both grandfathers -- installed a pair of 40-watt halogen lights on the space station.

The spacewalkers attached a 14-foot guide rail and smaller handholds to the girder and put shock absorbers on the railcar that rides a track on the beam. They also set up a radiation monitor outside the space station as well as a gas-sniffing gauge to detect any ammonia coolant leaks.

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