Shuttle Endeavour’s Final Space Walk

Astronauts upgrade robotics during Endeavour’s final mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

The crew of six will be partaking in the shuttle program’s final space walk, its fourth of the mission.  That finality also includes any future shuttle missions–a program that will subsequently meet  its end with Shuttle Atlantis.

The sixteen day mission included the usual “space” experiments for the ISS as well as revamping the robotic systems.  The space walk, carried out by astronauts Drew Feustel and Mike Fincke, investigated the heat shield and the wings–both standard docking procedure.  Also, seeing how its Endeavour’s final mission, the two supplied a spare robotic arm and hand to be attached to the ISS’ Russian Zayra Module.  More specifically, a power and data grapple fixture.  Its addition would give the Space Station more capabilities in future spacewalks and ISS repairs, all of which will happen using the crew of the ISS rather than shuttle teams moving forward.

Additionally, it is exciting to note that during the mission the ISS will be adding more capabilities to the Robonaut 2.  The Robonaut 2 (R2) is a humanoid robot that was brought aboard Shuttle Discovery’s final mission to the Space Station.  This robot was a highly anticipated development for the future of space robotics and human/robot scientific collaborations.  The additions Shuttle Endeavour brought were spare arms–adding to the nearly half-ton robot attached to the ISS.  R2 is getting more lean and will continue to grow with future missions.

NASA noted that the roughly 6 hour spacewalk will eclipse the 1,000 hour mark.  This milestone is a testament to the dedication of humanity in their quest for space exploration. Just cause for celebration for any Space geek.       



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