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Astronauts wrap up 4th spacewalk to repair Hubble

world Updated: May 18, 2009 11:01 IST

Two spacewalking astronauts overcame a stuck bolt, a fickle power tool and other aggravations to revive a long-inactive science instrument inside the Hubble Space Telescope.

The outing from space shuttle Atlantis by astronauts Mike Massimino and Mike Good to surgically repair a spectrograph that identifies super massive black holes was considered by NASA to be the most intricate spacewalk of the mission.

It turned equally frustrating for the two men as they were forced to contend with obstacles that required extra doses of ingenuity, patience and elbow grease and stretched their activities to just over eight hours.

"Oh, for Pete's sake," Massimino complained when the battery-operated ratchet he was using lost power. Later, the veteran astronaut cursed as he wrestled to discard the cover plate he'd pulled from the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) into a storage bag.

Massimino and Good focused all of their efforts on the STIS, which was installed in the telescope by shuttle astronauts in 1997. The spectrograph, which astronomers use to gather information about the chemical composition, temperature, pressure and velocities of celestial targets, was sidelined by a power failure in 2004.