Crew Preps for Historic Spacewalk

Preparations for Wednesday’s spacewalk and a call from President George Bush took center stage aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station today.

Late in the crew’s workday, the President gave the Shuttle and Station crews a call to talk about the mission.

“I want to thank you for being risk takers for the sake of exploration,” Bush said. ” … We look forward to seeing the successful completion of this mission.”

Before he signed off he added, “We are with you and wish you all the best.”

Mission managers decided Monday to remove two gap fillers that are protruding from areas between heat-shielding tiles on the Discovery’s underbelly. During the spacewalk, Mission Specialist Steve Robinson will venture under the Shuttle on the tip of the International Space Station’s robotic arm, locate the protrusions and gently tug until they come out. If that does not work, Robinson will have tools to cut off the protrusions.

“This is going to be a very delicate task,” Robinson said, “but as I say a simple one.”

About 20 minutes before the President’s call, STS-114 Eileen Collins radioed Mission Control and reported that her crew was a “go” for Wednesday’s spacewalk.

Crewmembers have reviewed the revised timeline and prepared equipment for the excursion. Other tasks for the spacewalk include the installation of an external stowage platform onto the Station.

Wednesday’s orbital stroll will be the third for Robinson and Mission Specialist Soichi Noguchi. They are slated to begin the spacewalk at 4:14 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

In other activities, all of the Shuttle and Station crewmembers participated in a news conference with U.S., Japanese and Russian reporters. Cargo transfers between the Station and Shuttle continue.

Mission managers will provide more information on Discovery in a briefing slated to begin at 6 p.m. EDT.

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