Spacewalking Astronauts Spot Rip in Solar Panel

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER (AP) -- Joy has turned to concern for two spacewalking astronauts.

They spotted a problem, a rip in a solar panel that was being unfurled on a power tower that they'd just moved all the way across the international space station.

After admiring the first golden panel as it gleamed in the sun, the astronauts suddenly stopped when they saw the tear in the edge of the second one. They beamed down photos of the torn and crumpled section so NASA engineers can determine the extent of the damage. They then retracted it a bit, to ease the pressure on it.

The space agency needs to get the tower up and running to prevent some other balky equipment on the station from delaying the addition of a European research lab on the next shuttle mission.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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