Spacewalk complete as "Dextre" tools up

Tue Mar 18, 2008 2:02am EDT
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By Ed Stoddard and Irene Klotz

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Dextre the handyman space robot now has the tools of his trade and is ready for work.

Astronauts from the shuttle Endeavour outfitted the International Space Station's newly installed robotic maintenance man with tools and cameras during a spacewalk that ended early on Tuesday.

Veteran spacewalker Richard Linnehan and rookie Robert Behnken were back in the station after an outing of almost seven hours.

"It's a pretty awesome view just looking down on everything," Linnehan commented at one point as the duo floated in space over 200 miles above the planet.

It was the third of five spacewalks scheduled for Endeavour's busy 12-day visit to the orbital outpost.

It was not all smooth sailing.

The astronauts battled to secure a science experiment outside of Europe's Columbus laboratory and in the end took it back to the shuttle's payload bay.

The Canadian-built robot, dubbed Dextre, was assembled during the mission's second spacewalk. It resembles a humanoid stick figure with gangly 11-foot (3.4 meter) arms.   Continued...

<p>Spacewalker Robert Behnken(L) works on the Canadian Space Agency's two-armed robotic system Dextre as spacewalker Rick Linnehan works in the background during a spacewalk in this image from NASA TV March 17, 2008. REUTERS/NASA TV</p>