Astronaut, cosmonaut route cable, test crane outside international space station

Tuesday, November 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ A Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut completed a spacewalk outside the international space station, hooking up cables, testing a crane and doing a little sightseeing in the process.

``Whoa, look beneath us now. Can you see those lights?'' station commander Frank Culbertson said to his spacewalking partner, Vladimir Dezhurov, as the station headed over the Arabian Sea. ``Incredible.''

Space station Alpha was soaring 250 miles above the Pacific Monday when Culbertson emerged in a bulky white spacesuit, nearly an hour late because of the need to redo a spacecraft leak check.

Culbertson had trouble getting around the exit ladder on the outside of the Russian docking compartment, which doubles as an air lock.

``Like I thought, the ladder is a problem here,'' Culbertson told Dezhurov.

During the five-hour excursion, the spacewalkers routed seven antenna cables for the Russian docking system. The men also inspected and photographed a Russian solar wing that never fully deployed. All the screws and bolts appeared to be in place on the stuck panel.

Because the cosmonauts did not have time to test the crane they installed on their first spacewalk, the hand-intensive job fell to Culbertson and Dezhurov.

Using a hand crank, Dezhurov extended the telescoping crane out to almost its full length of 40 feet. Culbertson, floating nearby, made sure the end of the crane didn't get too close to the space station.

``It's kind of hard,'' Dezhurov said. ``I have cramps in my hand.'' By the time the crane was retracted and secured, he had turned the crank more than 80 times.

It was Culbertson's first spacewalk and almost certainly his last. His four-month mission is nearing an end.

The 52-year-old retired Navy captain and former space station manager, has been living on the orbiting outpost since August with Dezhurov and another cosmonaut, Mikhail Tyurin. They will trade places early next month with a fresh three-man crew delivered by space shuttle Endeavour. Endeavour's liftoff is scheduled for Nov. 29.

Satisfied with the performance of the crane, Russian Mission Control outside Moscow informed the spacewalkers: ``Now it's time to go home.''