At a speed of 27,000 kilometres an hour and more than 346 kilometres above the Earth, two astronauts from the shuttle Atlantis have ventured out on a spacewalk. Its all in a day’s work for astronauts James Reilly and John Olivas who have spent more than six hours outside the international space station.
This was the first of three space walks planned during Atlantis’ week-long visit. The pair hooked up electrical connections to a massive girder holding new solar panels, needed to boost power on the orbital outpost.
A fourth spacewalk may take place to repair a tear in the shuttle’s heat-shield – a sensitive operation following the disintegration of the shuttle Columbia on its re-entry in 2003. A break in the Columbia’s heat shield on take-off set off a chain of events which led to the disaster – all seven astronauts on board were killed.