It has been a double red-letter day in space – the International Space Station has been completed with the last ever space-walk of NASA’s shuttle programme.
Endeavour will be retired when it lands next week. In two days astronaut Mike Fincke will become the American with most days in space breaking the 377 day record.
Fincke and another astronaut, Greg Chamitoff, floated outside the orbiting outpost’s Quest airlock for the fourth and final spacewalk planned during shuttle Endeavour’s 16-day mission.
After Fincke and Chamitoff transferred the shuttle’s 15-metre inspection boom to the station, doubling the reach of the station’s robotic crane, shuttle commander Mark Kelly called Mission Control in Houston to mark the milestone — after 12 years of efforts.
“Space station assembly is complete,” Kelly said.
Later, Chamitoff used a special camera with a wide-angle “fish eye” lens to photograph the space station and paused to reflect on the event.
“We’re floating here on the shoulders of giants,” he said. “This space station is the pinnacle of human achievement and international cooperation.”