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Image taken during the spacewalk  (Source: NASA)
The 100th spacewalk was successfully completed to investigate a problematic joint

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) conducted a scheduled spacewalk to inspect a pair of solar array joints that have been troublesome since a problem was found in late October.  The walk was monitored by observers on the ground, and flight engineers will now begin to investigate what steps need to be taken to correct the issue. 

The seven-hour spacewalk was carried out by Peggy Whitson, ISS commander, and Daniel Tani, a flight engineer, and helped focused solely on the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint (SARJ). The spacewalkers took photos and documented what they saw, then collected samples using a metal scraper and some tape.

During an inspection of the shuttle Atlantis fuel tank at Cape Canaveral, flight engineers believe a bad connector is the cause of the shuttle fuel gauges acting oddly.  After filling the external fuel tank with 500,000 pounds of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, one of the sensors failed and two others temporarily worked.

"We had a problem today on three of those sensors and we captured the data indicating that we have a problem at the ... connectors that lead the wires from the inside of the liquid hydrogen tank to the exterior of the tank," said Wayne Hale, shuttle program manager.

After two failed launch attempts, Atlantis is scheduled to launch on January 2, assuming NASA is able to correct the problem with the shuttle already secured to the launch pad.





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