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Astronauts Add New Section to Space Station


Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have successfully attached a new room to the station. They completed the task during the first of five spacewalks planned during their two-week mission. VOA's Alex Villarreal reports from Washington.

Crew members of the U.S. space shuttle, Discovery, embarked Friday on the mission's first spacewalk.

During the more than six-hour excursion, the Discovery and International Space Station crews used the station's robotic arm to move a new module, named Harmony, from the shuttle to a temporary location on the space station.

Space Station Flight Director Derek Hassman called the day a success. "It's not very often that I can report that a day goes exactly as we planned, but this is probably about as close as we get to one of those days. And this is one of those days where you really appreciate all the months and years of planning that go into these missions," he said.

The Harmony module, the size of a bus, will provide docking ports for Japanese and European scientific laboratories to be installed on the space station. It will be moved to its permanent location after the shuttle departs.

Space Station program manager Kirk Shireman said the module is a welcome addition. "Today, the International Space Station is 18 percent more volume than it was yesterday with the attachment of Harmony. We went to..we were 15,000, about 15,000 cubic feet. Today we're 2,600 feet, cubic feet more. So we're glad to have the extra volume on board ISS."

Spacewalkers also worked Friday on a massive solar power structure that will be relocated during future spacewalks and retrieved a broken antenna to be returned to Earth.

So far, the mission has not encountered major problems. After Discovery docked on Thursday, NASA engineers analyzed photos of the shuttle for damage. NASA officials say the engineers found nothing to warrant more focused inspection.

Discovery launched on Tuesday and is expected to return to Earth on November 6.

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