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ISS Crew Conducts Spacewalk to Repair Solar Wing


Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have conducted a risky spacewalk to repair a faulty solar wing on the orbiting outpost.

During their seven-hour spacewalk Wednesday, commander Peggy Whitson and flight engineer Daniel Tani successfully replaced a motor at the base of one of the station's solar wings.

The motor allows the wing to tilt toward the sun and draw more power. The spacewalkers waited until the space station was on the dark side of Earth, when the solar cells are inactive, so they would not be shocked.

The station has been plagued with problems in its solar panels for several months. One of the wings has been shut down because of metal shavings that blocked a joint from rotating.

NASA is hoping to launch the Space Shuttle Atlantis to the space station next week to install the European-built Columbus science laboratory.

The Atlantis flight has been postponed for nearly two months, because of a malfunctioning fuel sensor system.

The International Space Station must have more of its power restored before more components are added to the complex. NASA is rushing to complete construction on the space station before the shuttle is retired in 2010.

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

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