Sunday, May 17, 2009

Brute force in space

Astronauts can be tough, when they need to be. They can even rip things apart in space.
After two separate attempts to unscrew the bolt out with different custom-made tools - Plans A and B - Mission Control finally gave [astronaut Michael] Massimino the go ahead to just rip the handrail off, while taking care not to lose any of the broken pieces. The handrail was attached to a cover plate with four bolts, three of which were easily removed. It was the last bolt that stuck fast, apparently because it was stripped.

"Make sure you're ready," said astronaut Andrew Feustel, who was coaching the spacewalkers from inside Atlantis.

Mission Control warned the astronauts that it would take some serious strength to bend the handrail and shear off the stuck bolt. Massimino braced himself, then let loose. Mission Control was essentially blind as Atlantis passed out of live video range.

"Easy Mike, just real easy," [astronaut Michael] Good said.

"There we go! I think I got it," Massimino said. "I don't think we even scattered any debris."
And then give it a stout kick, just for good measure!

No comments: