Endeavour Astronauts Repair Solar Wing & Return to Earth

December 10, 2000 by Jeff Shepard

Endeavour astronauts completed their third and final spacewalk to wire up huge solar energy panels to the International Space Station before returning safely to Earth on 11 December 2000.

The $600 million solar wings, stretching 240 feet from tip-to-tip and 38 feet wide, are the largest, most powerful ever built for a spacecraft. They can generate 65kW of electricity at peak power.

In order to repair the solar wing, two astronauts had to climb 90 feet up the space station, which is located 240 miles above the

earth, and then tighten loose wires on one panel.

The wires had pulled loose when the flexible panels were first extended. Engineers worried that the space shuttle's coming and going could eventually loosen them further and break the electrical connections critical to the station.