Space station's new solar wings are opening
Friday, March 20th 2009, 12:14 pm
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- The newly installed solar wings at the international space station are slowly beginning to open.
Late Friday morning, astronauts pushed a button inside the orbiting station-shuttle complex that commanded one of the 115-foot wings to start unfurling. The entire process is expected to take several hours.
All 10 space travelers watched the first wing unfold, peering out windows and through camera lenses, ready to hit the "abort" button in case of trouble.
NASA managers closely watch the procedure because the wings could get hung up or some of the panels could stick together. The last time a solar wing was unfurled in 2007, it ripped.
On Thursday, a pair of spacewalking astronauts hooked up the $300 million framework that holds the wings.