Astronauts aboard the Atlantis on Tuesday successfully completed the last space walk of the shuttle program, and paid tribute to the "perseverance and trust and teamwork" of all those who went before them.
Flight Engineers Mike Fossum and Ron Garan worked for six hours and 31 minutes outside the shuttle with the Earth spinning below them and the International Space Station docked alongside, NASA said.
Passing over Barbados and the US east coast, they retrieved a failed pump, installed two experiments and repaired a base for the station’s robotic arm.
Inside the shuttle-station complex, crew members began transferring material from the Raffaello logistics module to the space station.
NASA said work to unload the more than 9,400 pounds (4.3 tons) of supplies and equipment brought up by Raffaello and repack the module with 5,700 pounds of equipment, supplies and trash for the flight home would continue for much of Atlantis's stay in orbit.
According to Spaceflight Now website, Tuesday's space walk was the 160th devoted to space station assembly and maintenance since construction began in 1998. It was the ninth so far this year, the seventh for Fossum and the fourth for Garan.
It said astronauts had completed a total of 1,009 hours and nine minutes, or 42 days, of space walks (known in the business as EVAs or extravehicular activity) at the station.
Fossum was the seventh on the list of astronauts with the most space walk time, with 48 hours and 32 minutes, while Garan's total increased to 27 hours and three minutes.
"We had to learn a lot, and this has been accomplished by literally tens of thousands of people around the country and around the world who figured these things out," Fossum said, recalling the first space walks at the station.
"It is hard work. It's hard work on the ground, it's hard work by everybody involved. And it's really strange, and you don't get to test it much. You try things out for the first time in the real environment of space, and it's hard, it has been all the way along.
"But for those of us who were working the program back in those days, to see that we've really done it, it's just awe inspiring," he said.
"It's a true testament to will power, perseverance and trust and teamwork. Ron and I are honored to be a part of it, to help close out one of the final chapters."