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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Discovery Crew Gets Chilly Welcome




CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- Still elated from their successful work outside, Discovery's astronauts swung open the hatches of the International Space Station and floated into the chilly but brightly lighted outpost.


They were the first visitors in six months. "Make yourself at home,'' radioed Mission Control.


Before the seven shuttle astronauts began opening the doors Sunday night, flight controllers warned it would be14 degrees Celsius in the first module, the American-made Unity. "You might want to bring a sweater,'' Mission Control advised. They had to pass through six hatches to get all the way in, a drawn-out affair that took more than two hours because of the need to equalize the pressure in the various compartments. Mission Control helped by turning on the lights ahead of them.


American Tamara Jernigan and Russian Valery Tokarev led the way. "We are absolutely delighted to be aboard,'' Jernigan said. Discovery's crew will spend the next three days making repairs and deliveries to the 385-kilometer-high station, vacant since another shuttle crew joined the first two components in orbit back in December.


The work is more tedious than what they did earlier Sunday during the second-longest spacewalk ever, rigging cranes and other tools to the exterior. Among the jobs awaiting them: pulling up the floor to replace electrical meters on Russian batteries that aren't charging properly, trying to fix a broken U.S. communication system, and installing mufflers to reduce the noise inside the Russian-built module Zarya. They got started on the repairs within minutes of entering the space station.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration downplayed the multitude of problems. "In high-tech like this, you're going to have that happen,'' Mission Control's Milt Heflin said. The shuttle astronauts have until Thursday to unload 1,350 kilograms of spare parts, computers, water and clothes for the men who are due to move in next March.


During Saturday night's spacewalk, Jernigan and Dr. Daniel Barry lugged 315 kilograms of gear from the shuttle to the station. A pair of 1.5-meter cranes took up most of the load.