CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) In their second spacewalk this week, space shuttle Atlantis astronauts jumped ahead and installed an extra gas tank on the international space stations new entryway Wednesday despite last-minute computer trouble.
Michael Gernhardt and James Reilly II latched two high-pressure oxygen tanks and one nitrogen tank onto the $164 million air lock, paving the way for its debut as a corridor for spacewalkers in just a few days.
The two men will exit the newly attached air lock during their third and final spacewalk of the mission Friday night, to hook up one last nitrogen tank.
Tuesday nights 61/2-hour spacewalk got off to a late start because of the sudden failure of the primary command-and-control computer aboard the space station. Flight controllers scrambled to reset the machine before Gernhardt and Reilly floated outside.
The computers hard drive began working again, allowing the space stations 58-foot robot arm to be used during the excursion as planned. Then one of the space stations motion-control gyroscopes went down, but just for 10 minutes.
To NASAs dismay, the computer problem resembled the hard-drive failures that crippled the space station during the last shuttle visit, in April. It took days and even weeks to replace the hard-drive units then.
Flight director Paul Hill said the hard drives will be replaced soon with newer and better ones.
Now that the air lock is almost finished, Americans living aboard the space station can go out in their own spacewalking suits whenever they want. The U.S. suits are incompatible with the Russian spacewalking systems that had provided the only exit.
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