American President Barack Obama telephoned space yesterday, telling astronauts at the International Space Station that he is “deeply committed” to human space exploration. “The president thanked the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s crew for their service, following their installation of the Tranquility Node – a seven-windowed cupola extension of the International Space Station.” His call came just after the astronauts completed their third and final spacewalk of the current shuttle mission to the ISS. “American Robert Behnken and UK-born Nicholas Patrick finished a five-hour 48-minute outing to put finishing touches to the Tranquility Node. Among other tasks, they prepared the module’s new observation deck, or ‘cupola’, for its first opening. Tranquility represents the last major component in the building of the ISS. Besides a good deal more space, Tranquility will provide ISS astronauts with an unprecedented view of the Earth and of approaching vehicles that the station has lacked until now. The seven-windowed cupola includes a central window of nearly 80cm diameter – the largest ever sent into space.”
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