Spacewalk #4

Well, the smoothness of yesterday has definitely not continued.

Today's hardest job is a repair similar to yesterday's: removing and replacing electronics circuit boards inside the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS).

Like yesterday, today's STIS repair involves removing lots of tiny screws without any breaking, stripping, getting stuck, or drifting loose into the telescope. Yesterday, Grunsfeld had 32 screws to deal with; today, Mike Massimino has 117 screws to get out. But Mass's work site is right in front of him, whereas Grunsfeld had to work around a corner and partially blind.

So far they're having problems. To install the big device used to trap the screws (Fastener Capture Plate), first Mass has to remove a handle that's in the way. First problem: a bolt holding the handle on refused to budge.

After repeated attempts failed, with all the other bolts removed, Massimino applied tape over the recalcitrant bolt (to trap any metal fragments), and yanked the handle as hard as he could--snapping the head off the bolt. He reported no visible metal splinters getting loose into Hubble.

Next, he's having problems installing the Fastener Capture Plate in just the right position. And just now, his power tool wouldn't come on--seemingly a dead battery.

No word yet, but I'm sure all this will cause them to run behind.
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