Endeavour Docks with ISS; Astronauts Begin First Spacewalk

Endeavour Space Walk
Astronaut Rick Linnehan exits the U.S. Quest airlock and begins the first STS-123 spacewalk. Credit: NASA TV

(with additional staff reporting)

Mission Specialist Rick Linnehan and Expedition 16 Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman kicked off the STS-123 mission’s first spacewalk at 9:18 p.m. EDT Thursday. Their primary goal is to prepare the Japanese Logistics Module – Pressurized Section (JLP), the first component of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory, to be installed on the International Space Station early Friday morning.

Their tasks include preparing the JLP for unberthing from space shuttle Endeavour’s payload bay. They will open a flap to reveal the Centerline Berthing Camera System on top of the Harmony module. The system provides live video to assist with docking spacecraft and modules together.

Once in the shuttle’s payload bay, the two spacewalkers will remove contamination covers from the Passive Common Berthing Mechanism, the docking port that allows modules to be attached to other spacecraft or modules.

In addition, they will install both the Orbital Replacement Unit tool change out mechanisms on the Canadian-built Dextre, the final element of the station’s Mobile Servicing System.

Meanwhile, Mission Specialists Robert Behnken and Léopold Eyharts will use the shuttle’s robotic arm to begin moving the JLP to its place on the station.

The spacewalk follows Endeavour’s successfully docking with the International Space Station on Wednesday at 11:49 pm EDT. NASA also reports that an initial inspection of the shuttle found no damage to the vehicle’s exterior. Launch video showed a piece of debris flying off near the orbiter.