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US Astronauts Venture Outside for Space Station Work


A team of astronauts has added a key new piece of equipment to the International Space Station during the first of three spacewalks to replace the station's power system.

NASA says U.S. space shuttle Discovery crew members Robert Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang ventured into open space Tuesday to install the new metal structure. Fuglesang is Sweden's first astronaut.

The new structure is designed to help bring power, data and coolant into the space station. The renovations will replace the station's six-year-old power system with new solar panels.

U.S. space agency officials say this is NASA's most complex construction mission to date.

The seven astronauts aboard Discovery docked at the space station on Monday after a two-day journey from Earth.

Meanwhile, NASA says the Discovery astronauts will not have to conduct a focused inspection of the shuttle's heat shield Wednesday. NASA has been meticulous about inspecting the shuttle for damage since debris struck Columbia in 2003. The shuttle disintegrated upon re-entry, and killed all seven astronauts on board.

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