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Power loss interrupts shuttle spacewalk

US astronaut Garrett Reisman during a spacewalk yesterday outside the International Space Station. US astronaut Garrett Reisman during a spacewalk yesterday outside the International Space Station. (AP/ NASA)
Associated Press / May 18, 2010

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A partial power loss at the International Space Station briefly interrupted yesterday’s spacewalk, knocking out robotic camera views of the two astronauts as they worked to install a spare antenna.

The power loss happened two hours into the 7 1/2-hour spacewalk by Atlantis crewmen Garrett Reisman and Stephen Bowen. The space station’s main command-and-control computer suddenly crashed.

A backup computer kicked in, but power temporarily was lost to some equipment, including the video monitors being used by the robot arm operator, Piers Sellers.

Reisman was perched on the end of the space station’s 58-foot robot arm when Sellers lost his camera views. Bowen was working with connectors on the space station’s framework. Both were told to stop what they were doing.

NASA said neither spacewalker was ever in danger. In less than a half-hour, everything was back to normal, although the backup computer remained in charge.

The spacewalkers had to contend with a tough connector and refasten some bolts. A few hours later, the 6-foot dish antenna and its boom were installed on the space station.

Shuttle Atlantis and its crew of six delivered the antenna and other spare parts to the space station Sunday.

NASA wants to stockpile as much equipment at the orbiting complex as possible before the shuttle program ends. Only two more shuttle missions remain. For Atlantis, though, this is it.