US astronauts to ‘bottle’ space for Japan

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, February 28, 2011 16:45 EDT
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WASHINGTON – Two American astronauts began on Monday the first of two spacewalks to install a permanent spare closet on the orbiting International Space Station and also to bottle some outer space for Japan.

The unusual project is part of a team effort with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, to open up a metal cylinder that has been signed by other astronauts, and bring it back for public display.

The so-called “Message in a Bottle” experiment, in which they will “expose a metal canister to capture the vacuum of space,” is planned for the end of the six-hour spacewalk, NASA said.

In the meantime, astronauts Steve Bowen and Alvin Drew set about taking care of some more technical matters, by attaching a new extension power cable for backup purposes between the Unity node and the Tranquility module.

Next they would install “a pump module vent tool, a camera wedge and extensions to the mobile transporter rail,” as preparation for the setup of the Italian-built Leonardo module as a permanent fixture at the lab, NASA said.

The walk began at 1546 GMT, about a half hour earlier than scheduled, and is set to end at 2048 GMT. A second spacewalk is planned for Wednesday.

Bowen and Drew are part of a six-member US crew that arrived at the ISS on Saturday aboard the space shuttle Discovery, which launched Thursday on its final mission.

After it wraps up this journey, Discovery will become the first of three spacecraft — the other two are Endeavour and Atlantis — to retire this year as the American shuttle program ends.

Discovery crew is at the ISS to deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module, with extra storage space and an area for experiments, and the Express Logistic Carrier, an external platform for large equipment.

It is also carrying the first humanoid robot to the ISS.

The spacewalk is the sixth for Bowen, who replaced astronaut Tim Kopra after a bike accident in January, and the first for Drew, an African-American astronaut who has now become the 200th person to walk in space, NASA said.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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  • Anonymous

    Japan could probably use more space, at least in Tokyo.

  • http://www.facebook.com/skornenicholas Nicholas Byrd

    Don’t remind them, the last time they felt the need for more space they invaded mainland China.

  • Anonymous

    Marketers surely could figure out how to sell them some of that bottled outer space. Next product could be inner space for a calming effect. Zero calories.

  • Schmice

    I thought SynGas’ comment was very funny. Yours is definitely a great rejoinder . LOL for both of you.

  • Schmice


  • http://www.google.com/profiles/Hostile177 hostile177

    Which makes me wonder why use a metal canister instead of a glass bottle? I think a bottle would have been more appealing. Sure…your looking at nothing but isn’t that the point?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UJ4XRIA3A3E6MYGK755EGWLN4Q Dani A

    durability. Glass is very fragile. You take the glass jar back down, its under great great pressure… any slight tap could cause it to implode.

  • Anonymous

    Now they have me wondering what aroma it doesn’t have.

  • Anonymous

    That might help people learn to respect other people’s space. People who prefer fences might opt for the stainless canister. We must not forget that Freedom of Choice opens market$. (we must repeat…)
    Japan is gonna be all over this! North Korea? Stainless! Glass might not last so long there and seeing all that space might be too frustrating, but they can still safely carry it where ever they want.
    Optional Shoulder straps, … so everyone can have their own “Space Pack” to carry.
    This is really gonna go global, I can just feel it. Hope the proper patents are in order for those astronauts! Maybe offer an optional Pet Rock in there as well, but now I’m getting way ahead of myself…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UJ4XRIA3A3E6MYGK755EGWLN4Q Dani A

    -cracks up-
    (maybe I too am made of glass :O )

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MSVG73USMG342DWORQKIEJ6HVQ Bob

    Now people in space can be in the closet. Can they bottle some good weather and deliver it to my area? We need it bad.