NASA: Spacewalking astronauts install battery on solar array

Shuttle <i>Atlantis</i> crew completes third and final spacewalk of the NASA mission

Two NASA astronauts today installed two new batteries on the International Space Station's solar array, which should keep the orbiter powered up for years to come.

Astronauts Michael Good and Garrett Reisman installed the batteries on one of the four solar arrays on the space station on Friday morning, according to NASA. All six batteries that NASA's space shuttle Atlantis ferried up to the station are now installed and ready to go.

The installation of the last battery took 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Earlier in the scheduled Atlantis 12-day mission, spacewalking astronauts attached a Russian-built research module onto the outside of the space station. They also installed a new space-to-ground dish communications antenna that was carried aloft aboard the space shuttle.

The six-member crew of Atlantis lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 14. The space shuttle has been flying for 25 years and has 115 million miles.

NASA plans to launch flights on two other shuttle crafts later this year. The entire fleet is scheduled to be retired by the end of 2010.

The last space shuttle flights are focused on ferrying spare parts and equipment to the space station. Once NASA's shuttle fleet is retired , it will be far more difficult, if not impossible, to get such massive pieces of equipment to the station.

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