Orbiting Outpost Gets a Sprucing Up

APThe view through the space station window of the approaching Discovery.
HOUSTON -- Both the inside and outside of the international space station's newest room got spruced up Thursday.

Space shuttle Discovery astronauts Michael Fossum and Ronald Garan Jr. headed back outside for their second spacewalk in three days to outfit Japan's billion-dollar Kibo lab, which was delivered by the shuttle. Their objective: to set up TV cameras around Kibo's robotic arm.

Meanwhile, inside Kibo, the shuttle and space station crews were set to continue outfitting it with more equipment racks so the new lab can be fully brought to life. The door to Kibo -- Japanese for hope -- was swung open Wednesday, a day after its installation at the station.

It was a momentous occasion for Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, who hung a banner over the threshold and led the procession inside.

Hoshide noted that Kibo was empty, for now, but quoted an engineer back on Earth who told him, "It looks really empty, but it's full of dreams."

The other good news this week is that the space station's toilet finally was working normally again. Russian space station resident Oleg Kononenko put in a new pump that was delivered by Discovery, after it was rushed to the launch site from Moscow. Flight controllers gave the go-ahead for the toilet's use once it became apparent it worked.

"We fully expect it's now fixed and we don't have to worry about it anymore," said Emily Nelson, a space station flight director.

For two weeks, the three men living aboard the space station had to manually flush the Russian-built toilet with extra water several times a day. It was a time-consuming job and a waste of water, not to mention an unpleasant chore.