CAPE CANAVERAL — A pair of astronauts ventured out Thursday night on the first space walk of Endeavour's space station mission despite a problem getting power to a giant robot that they needed to assemble.
The trouble cropped up earlier in the day and had engineers scrambling for a solution as Richard Linnehan and Garrett Reisman floated outside to start putting together the Canadian robot, named Dextre, and help attach a Japanese storage compartment to the international space station.
LeRoy Cain, chairman of the mission management team, said the power loss would not affect the work to attach the robot's hands to its 11-foot arms.
It's too soon to know whether the second space walk, also dedicated to robot assembly, will be affected if the problem persists, Cain said. Power is needed to heat the joints, limbs and all the electronics of the robot, which could be damaged if left cold for days. It's also needed to check out Dextre and get it moving.
"We don't have our hair on fire and need to do something in the next couple of hours, but we're working it," Cain said at a late afternoon news conference.
NASA's space station program manager, Mike Suffredini, said he was confident the problem could be resolved fairly quickly.
Canadian engineers suspected the trouble could be with a timer, and were working on a computer software patch to fix it.
In the worst case, astronauts could go back out to disassemble Dextre and leave it in pieces at the space station, Suffredini said.
Endeavour's astronauts, meanwhile, got some good news: The object that appeared to strike the shuttle's nose right at liftoff Tuesday, possibly a bird, actually missed the spacecraft altogether. Endeavour's thermal shielding looks to be in good shape for re-entry in two weeks, Mission Control informed them.