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Spacewalk #1

They just got out of an almost big problem.

Their first big task on spacewalk #1 is to replace the Wide Field Camera 2, Hubble's main camera that has taken many of the famous images. It's held in by one big bolt, which refused to loosen on repeated attempts.

The next step was to apply more force at the risk of breaking the bolt (if the bolt breaks, the old Wide Field would stay in and the expensive new camera comes back to Earth without ever being installed--a huge disappointment).

On the final attempt, the bolt finally loosened.

In the end, the new Wide Field Camera 3 was successfully installed. But a job that was supposed to be routine turned out to be a real nail-biter, and the first spacewalk ran long.

No one is saying so out loud, but the feeling I sense here is that this is not a good omen for the start of the mission. But then again, engineers don't believe in omens.

Still, a day that no one expected to be troublesome turned out to be highly problematic and marked by an extremely tense close call. Hubble Program scientist Dave Leckrone said he aged five years during today's spacewalk.

Tomorrow is supposed to be "routine" (just like today was???) although the most important task--replacing Hubble's gyros, used to stabilize the telescope--is known to be "challenging" (astronaut-speak for damn difficult).
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