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Astronauts install solar arrays on space station

The S6 truss (lower left) rests at the end of Canadarm2, the International Space Station's robotic arm. NASA photo

WASHINGTON (BNS): Astronauts Thursday installed the International Space Station's final truss segment, Starboard 6, containing the fourth pair of solar arrays, top task for the Discovery crew that arrived there Wednesday.

Once the solar array wings are unfurled, the segment will provide the final complement of power to the station, NASA said.

"It wasn't quite as smooth as we had hoped, but those guys did a great job," astronaut Joseph Acaba told Mission Control yesterday.

The next milestone will be today, when the folded-up solar wings are unfurled.

After station robotic arm drivers John Phillips and Koichi Wakata guided the truss into position, spacewalkers Steve Swanson and Richard Arnold connected bolts to permanently attach S6 to S5.

The spacewalkers plugged in power and data connectors to the truss, prepared a radiator to cool it, opened boxes containing the new solar arrays and deployed the Beta Gimbal Assemblies containing masts that support the solar arrays.

Mission Control in Houston deployed the radiator, and the stage is set for solar array wing deploy on Friday at 10:58 am EDT.

”Today's spacewalk lasted six hours, seven minutes. It was Swanson's third spacewalk and Arnold's first, and the 121st spacewalk in support of station assembly, totaling about 762 hours,” the space agency said.

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