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Astronauts prepare for first spacewalk

world Updated: Sep 02, 2009 01:35 IST
US space shuttle

The US space shuttle Discovery's crew awoke today to begin unloading tons of equipment to the International Space Station, with two astronauts preparing to set out on the mission's first spacewalk.

A total of 13 astronauts at the linked shuttle and orbiting station were to help transfer cargo after Discovery's crew opened the hatch into the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, built by the Italian space agency, NASA said.

The huge pressurized chamber is carrying 7.5 tons (6.8 metric tonnes) of supplies, including new station crew quarters, a freezer, food, two research racks and a treadmill named after popular US talk-show comedian Stephen Colbert.

Astronaut Nicole Stott, the newest ISS resident, will conduct the mission's first spacewalk at 2149 GMT with Mission Specialist Danny Olivas, said the US space agency. They are expected to be on the walk for 6-1/2 hours.

Stott is taking over at the ISS from engineer Tim Kopra, who has been aboard the orbiting laboratory since July and is returning to Earth with the shuttle.

Discovery docked with the ISS on Sunday, on the eve of launching eight days of joint operations between the combined shuttle and station's crews.

The shuttle blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Friday after its launch was delayed three times by bad weather and a valve problem.