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After Endeavour-ISS link-up, astronauts prepare for spacewalk

Astronauts aboard the US space shuttle space shuttle, reusable U.S. space vehicle. Developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), it consists of a winged orbiter, two solid-rocket boosters, and an external tank.  Endeavour and International Space Station on Monday prepared for their first spacewalk Verb 1. spacewalk - move in space outside a space craft
walk - use one's feet to advance; advance by steps; "Walk, don't run!"; "We walked instead of driving"; "She walks with a slight limp"; "The patient cannot walk yet"; "Walk over to the cabinet"
 of the mission after the two spacecraft linked up 223 miles (360 kilometers) above the South Pacific Ocean.

Endeavour docked at the ISS ISS

See Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS).
 on Sunday almost 48 hours into its 15-day mission to expand the living quarters of the orbiting space station.

"Welcome Endeavour ... we understand that this house is in need of an extreme makeover and that you are the crew to do it. We're really glad to see you ... Welcome to space," ISS commander Mike Fincke told the seven arriving Endeavour astronauts in a welcoming ceremony.

Before the two craft linked up, the Endeavour, piloted by commander Chris Ferguson
For the American astronaut, see Christopher Ferguson.

Chris "Jesus" Ferguson (born Christopher Philip Ferguson April 11 1963, in Los Angeles, California) is a professional poker player.

Ferguson attended UCLA where he earned a Ph.D.
, performed a backflip back·flip  
intr.v. back·flipped, back·flip·ping, back·flips
To perform a backward somersault, especially in the air.

A backward somersault.
 so astronauts aboard the station could photograph its heat shield for closer analysis.

On Saturday, crew members used the shuttle's robotic arm A robotic arm is a robot manipulator, usually programmable, with similar functions to a human arm. The links of such a manipulator are connected by joints allowing either rotational motion (such as in an articulated robot) or translational (linear) displacement.  and an attached boom extension to check the spacecraft's underside, nose cap and leading edges of the wings as well as hard to reach surfaces.

After looking at images coming from cameras on the ground, NASA NASA: see National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
 in full National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Independent U.S.
 engineers thought they saw a piece of insulation fly off from the rear of the shuttle. But the images transmitted Saturday by Endeavour astronauts during their routine inspection appeared to show nothing dramatic.

The task of the Endeavour crew will be to repair the station's power-generating solar arrays and expand its living quarters to accommodate bigger crews.

"This mission is all about home improvement," Ferguson said last week during launch preparations. "Home improvement inside and outside the station."

It will be the most extreme home makeover ever attempted by NASA astronauts. The additions will include two new sleeping quarters, exercise equipment, a second toilet, two new ovens to heat food, a refrigerator for food and drinks, a freezer and an oven for scientific experiments.

Endeavour is carrying 14.5 tonnes of material and equipment to the Italian module Leonardo, allowing for the ISS crew to expand from three to six in 2009.

As one NASA expert described it, the upgrades will effectively turn the ISS into "a five-bedroom two-bath house with a kitchen, and support six residents on a continuing basis."

The astronauts also will be installing a system that can turn urine back into drinking water drinking water

supply of water available to animals for drinking supplied via nipples, in troughs, dams, ponds and larger natural water sources; an insufficient supply leads to dehydration; it can be the source of infection, e.g. leptospirosis, salmonellosis, or of poisoning, e.g.
. The 250-million-dollar upgrade will allow enough recycling for a six-person ISS crew to sharply reduce the amount of water that has to be flown up from Earth.

Four planned spacewalks during the mission will focus on servicing the station's solar wings, mainly the large joints that allow the apparatus to rotate to track the sun.

The first spacewalk is set to begin on Tuesday.

The 27th shuttle flight to the orbiting space station and the fourth and final shuttle mission for 2008 consists of a crew of five men and two women, all Americans.

While docked to the ISS, the Endeavour astronauts and the three-man ISS crew will mark the 10th anniversary of the ISS, a multi-billion-dollar collaborative effort between the space agencies of Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia and the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. .

Endeavour's crew includes commander Ferguson, 47, co-pilot Eric Boe, 44, and five other mission specialists including Sandra Magnus, 44.

She will replace compatriot com·pa·tri·ot  
1. A person from one's own country.

2. A colleague.

[French compatriote, from Late Latin compatri
 Greg Chamitoff as ISS Expedition 18 flight engineer. Chamitoff is scheduled to return to Earth on Endeavour in late November while Magnus is to stay on through February 2009.

Endeavour's mission is scheduled to end November 29, though NASA has said the flight could well be extended a day.
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Publication:AFP Global Edition
Date:Nov 17, 2008
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