CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Two space station astronauts ventured out on a spacewalk Tuesday to do a little maintenance work before visitors arrive.
The spacewalk 220 miles up took place on the eve of space shuttle Discovery's launch to the orbiting outpost.
American commander Mike Fincke and Yuri Lonchakov, a Russian, wrapped up all the chores left over from a spacewalk just before Christmas.
They accomplished everything faster than anticipated, in well under five hours, and accepted congratulations from Moscow flight controllers as they floated back inside.
"OK, space, goodbye now," Fincke said in Russian.
Down at NASA's spaceport, meanwhile, everything was falling into place for Wednesday night's planned launch of Discovery, following a month of almost day-by-day delays due to some propulsion system valves. The shuttle and its seven-man crew will deliver one last set of solar wings for the international space station.
Forecasters put the odds of good launch weather at 90 percent.
"The weather is looking very good for launch, I'm happy to say, and of course we're going to have that full moon out, so that's going to be really nice, too," shuttle weather officer Kathy Winters said Tuesday.
If Discovery blasts off Wednesday night, it will arrive at the space station on Friday.
Besides the huge framework containing the folded solar wings, Discovery will carry up a new urine processor for the space station's water-recycling system. The processor that went up in November on the last shuttle flight has malfunctioned repeatedly.
The shuttle astronauts will stage four spacewalks while they're there.
During Tuesday's spacewalk, Lonchakov took out a long knife and trimmed six straps that flapped around whenever an unmanned cargo ship would arrive.
"We're going to do it the old-fashioned way," Fincke said before going out. He promised they would be careful with the sharp blade, which easily could pierce a pressurized spacesuit.
Also quickly crossed off their to-do list: photographing the outside of the 8 1/2-year-old Russian living quarters for any signs of wear and tear, hooking up a science experiment on the hull of the station and straightening out another, and closing a thermal flap on a piece of equipment.
Astronaut Sandra Magnus, the third space station resident, remained inside throughout the spacewalk. She will wrap up a four-month stay once Discovery arrives with her replacement.