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Astronauts to Try to Wiggle Solar Panel Loose


The crews of the U.S. space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station (ISS) will attempt to retract a partially stuck solar panel Friday.

Officials with the U.S. space agency NASA say the 35-meter long panel is stuck in place because of a jammed guidewire. One option to correct the problem includes having an astronaut engage in a vigorous workout on the station's exercise equipment to try and shake the line loose. They came up with this plan after recalling an earlier mission when an astronaut shook the solar panel while exercising.

If this does not work, NASA may schedule a fourth spacewalk so two Discovery astronauts can manually fold the panel. But NASA officials say this would be a risky procedure because of its location.

The panel got stuck on Wednesday while it was being retracted to allow a new set of solar wings to rotate and track the sun.

Meanwhile, NASA says Thursday's spacewalk by American Robert Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang of Sweden to reroute the station's power was a success. The two spent five hours switching electrical connections from the orbital outpost's temporary power source to a new set of solar panels installed during a shuttle flight in September.

Astronauts will conduct a third spacewalk on Saturday to finish the rewiring efforts.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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