Discovery’s astronauts warned Friday that spacewalkers will need warmer gloves to build a space station but predicted smooth sailing for docking with Russia’s orbiting outpost.
Dr. Bernard Harris admitted he and Michael Foale reached and probably exceeded the temperature safety limit out in the icy darkness of space.
Their fingers became extremely cold during Thursday’s spacewalk, deliberately conducted in colder than usual conditions - the temperature dipped below minus-125 degrees Fahrenheit - to test thermal modifications to their suits.
Foale, who scrunched up his fingers into the palms of his gloved hands to stay warm during the so-called stress test, said during a space-to-ground news conference: “I was quite alarmed by that.”
Discovery and its crew of six were scheduled to land just before sunrise today at Kennedy Space Center.
Harris, a former NASA flight surgeon, said he was never concerned about frostbite because of safety limits that were established for the spacewalk long before the flight.
“Both Mike and I reached that limit, maybe went just a little bit beyond,” Harris said.
The agreement was that if Harris or Foale got too cold, they would end the five-hour spacewalk early - which they did by a half hour.