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Astronauts perform final spacewalk



(CNN) -- A request for a steak and a cold beer marked the end of the third and final spacewalk for shuttle astronauts Mike Gernhardt and Jim Reilly, who spent three hours early Friday -- Earthtime in Kennedy Space Center -- checking out a new airlock and attaching another gas tank.

Mission managers in Houston, Texas, asked Gernhardt and Reilly to check an item that wasn't on their work order: a motor that drives one of the Space Station's solar arrays that had been acting up.

The astronauts, climbing hand over hand along the face of the Space Station, worked their way to the motor. After a visual inspection showed nothing wrong, mission managers told the astronauts to call it a day.

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During the three-hour spacewalk, Gernhardt and Reilly checked out a new airlock they had installed during their first two spacewalks, and attached a fourth and final gas tank to the airlock.

The walk began about half an hour late because it took longer than expected to depressurize the new airlock so the astronauts could step out into space. When they finally got out, the men were only minutes U.S. Eastern time from marking the 32nd anniversary of the first moon walk.

Floating out of the airlock, Gernhardt said, "On this historic anniversary of the first moon walk, it's a real honor for the integrated shuttle and station crews, along with the flight control team, to usher in a new era of spacewalking from the International Space Station."

The view from the new airlock is far different than exiting from the shuttle's cargo bay airlock, and it struck both astronauts immediately.

"It's quite a view coming out," Reilly said.

"Yeah, really. It's straight down. You get a sense of falling, don't you?" Gernhardt answered.

The entire spacewalk lasted four hours and two minutes, the shortest of the three. With all of their work complete, the Atlantis crew will start packing up for the undocking and the trip home.

Atlantis is scheduled to touch down back at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida early Tuesday morning.







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