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7/27/2009
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Astronauts Complete Five Hour Spacewalk

Shuttle crewmembers perform a range of housekeeping duties outside the International Space Station.

A pair of astronauts from the space shuttle Endeavour on Monday multitasked their way through a five hour spacewalk around the International Space Station. The jaunt saw them complete a range of maintenance and research tasks outside the ISS.

Spacewalkers Tom Marshburn and Chris Cassidy added insulation to NASA's Dextre robot, worked on power channels for two gyroscopes, installed video cameras on Japan's new space lab, and built handrails that will aid future space station walkers.

The effort marked the fifth and last spacewalk for the current shuttle mission, which is known as STS-127. It was also the 218th spacewalk in the history of the American space program.

Endeavour lifted off on July 15th from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida after a series of delays caused by faulty equipment and bad weather.

The mission hasn't been without drama. Shuttle pilots were forced to maneuver the craft over the ISS so that space station crews could check for possible damage from liftoff debris. NASA at this point does not believe the craft suffered any significant harm.

STS-127 is a 16-day roundtrip voyage that has seen the Endeavour crew work to complete construction of Japan's Kibo space laboratory. The astronauts added a porch-like platform to the lab's exterior that will allow experiments to be exposed to the vacuum of outer space.

NASA is expected to phase out the space shuttle program starting next year. Plans call for the development of an Apollo-style rocket and capsule system, dubbed Ares and Orion, to replace the orbiter. Obama administration officials, however, have recently raised questions about the plan's cost and practicality.

The Senate earlier this month confirmed former astronaut Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden as NASA administrator.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on leading-edge government IT -- and how the technology involved may end up inside your business. Download the report here (registration required).

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