Astronaut Mike Fincke ran into trouble today while trying to lubricate a joint in the life-sustaining solar power system of the International Space Station, losing one bolt and getting a washer stuck in a crevice. Fincke, one of NASA's most experienced spacemen, had to settle for a partial lube job, after the bolts holding down covers on the massive joint started popping off unexpectedly. "Bummer," said his spacewalking partner, Andrew Feustel.
The two men went into overtime, though, to do what they could. They managed to lubricate four sections of the joint, two fewer than planned, and reinstall three covers. The fourth cover was brought back inside because of all the loose bolts. Their spacewalk—the second of four planned for Endeavour's final space station visit—went 1 1/2 hours longer than planned. It lasted more than eight hours and set the record for the sixth longest in history. "You guys earned your pay for the day," astronaut Gregory Chamitoff radioed from inside.