Army Colonel completes first space walk
Astronaut Col.Tim Kopra works to prepare the berthing mechanisms on the Kibo laboratory and the Japanese Exposed Facility for installation onto the International Space Station. When the Endeavour crew returns to Earth, Kopra will stay aboard the station to serve as a flight engineer.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 21, 2009) -- Army Col. Tim Kopra participated in the first space walk of the Space Shuttle Endeavor, STS-127, on Saturday.

Kopra was responsible for preparations to install the final component of the Kibo Lab onto to the International Space Station.

Kopra successfully completed his only spacewalk of the mission by preparing the Exposed Facility, a porch-like deck for conducting experiments in extreme Space conditions, for installation. In addition, he also prepared the berthing mechanism on the Kibo laboratory.

Astronaut David Wolf accompanied Kopra on the spacewalk. They set up two systems for attaching cargo to the station's truss -- an unpressurized cargo carrier system and a payload attachment system. Astronauts from inside the International Space Station then installed the porch robotically. The spacewalk took five hours and 32 minutes, almost an hour faster than expected.

The mission of the Endeavour STS-127 is to deliver the final component of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's billion-dollar Kibo Laboratory to the international space station. After all of the spacewalks are completed, the laboratory will have two platforms.

The Kibo laboratory is a Japanese experimental module made of two parts -- the pressurized module and the exposed facility. The purpose of the lab is to focus on space medicine, biology, Earth observations, material production, biotechnology and communication research.

Kopra is serving as a mission specialist for STS-127 and and then will serve as Expedition 20 flight engineer for the International Space Station. The shuttle launched July 15 on a 16-day mission with five spacewalks. The STS-127 has seven crew members, and the international Space Station has six members.

Once the STS-127 departs, Kopra will live on the International Space Station for about six weeks and replace Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who will be flying back with the STS-127 crew. Kopra will be stationed there until August when he will be replaced by Nicole Stott. During his stint on the ISS, Kopra will conduct various experiments.

Kopra described his success with two words -- desire and persistence. He credited the Army with the assimilation of both skills.

Kopra is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he majored in science. After graduation he served as a second lieutenant at Fort Campbell, Ky., where he was an aeroscout platoon leader, troop executive officer and squadron adjutant to the 101st Airborne Division air cavalry squadron.

In the 1990s, he was deployed in Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Kopra then received a master's in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and enrolled in the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. He worked as a vehicle integration engineer and engineering liaison for space shuttle launch operations at the Johnson Space Center until he was chosen to be an astronaut in 2000.

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