Endeavour astronauts finish final spacewalk (Lead)

November 25th, 2008 - 8:52 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 25 (Xinhua) Two US astronauts on space shuttle Endeavour Monday finished the mission’s fourth and final spacewalk to work on joints on the solar panels that power the International Space Station (ISS), according to NASA TV.Mission specialists Steve Bowen and Shane Kimbrough completed the cleaning and lube job on the station’s right-side solar array joint and replaced the final bearing of the 12 bearings for the massive gear.

This jammed joint has had limited use since September 2007. The repair work took all of the mission’s four spacewalks to complete. “Finally!” Bowen said about 2.5 hours into today’s spacewalk when they really wrapped up the tough task. “Thanks for your work,” NASA’s mission control radioed up, echoing with applause.

During the spacewalk, the duo also teamed up to remove a multi-layer insulation blanket from Japan’s Kibo laboratory. Bowen installed a GPS antenna atop Kibo.

Kimbrough then moved to the opposite end of the station’s truss to lubricate the left-side solar array joint as a preventative maintenance step. The left gear has been working fine, but the spacewalkers reported some slight wear on its surface.

After finishing all of the assigned tasks, they returned safely to the Quest airlock of the station at 7.31 p.m. EST (0031 GMT Tuesday).

Endeavour’s current mission is officially a 16-day mission that will also feature a Thanksgiving Day at the space outpost. It will undock with the station and leave for home on Nov 28.

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