HOUSTON — A shuttle astronaut pulled from a spacewalk earlier this week is feeling better as he and his crewmates continue what they called an "amazing" construction flight to the International Space Station (ISS).
German astronaut Hans Schlegel declined to go into the details of his malady, but told reporters that he is back at full strength after a medical issue prevented him from taking part in a Monday spacewalk to help deliver the European Space Agency's (ESA) Columbus laboratory to the ISS.
"I'm doing very fine," Schlegel said via a space-to-ground video link after he and crewmates opened the new lab today. "I worked all day today on Columbus and then to prepare my [spacewalk] with Rex Walheim tomorrow."
Schlegel and Walheim will pay a maintenance call on the space station's cooling system Wednesday when they replace an empty nitrogen tank during their mission's second spacewalk. Mission managers delayed the flight's first spacewalk, originally planned for Sunday, by one day to swap Schlegel with fellow spacewalker Stanley Love.
But while he was personally disappointed in staying inside the NASA's Atlantis orbiter, Schlegel said he supported the call and was excited to assist the spacewalkers from inside the spacecraft alongside shuttle pilot Alan Poindexter.
"Nobody could have been happier than me when we finished," Schlegel said. "That's all I want to say because medical issues are private."
Commanded by the veteran shuttle astronaut Stephen Frick, NASA's STS-122 mission to deliver Columbus and a new Expedition 16 crewmember to the station is nearly half over. Tuesday marked Flight Day 6 of a planned 12-day spaceflight, which includes two more spacewalks scheduled for Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
"The view of the Earth is probably the most incredible personal experience that people have," Frick said from the flight deck of Atlantis. "It's just an amazing experience and we get to do it for 11 or 12 days."
Atlantis' seven-astronaut crew ferried French astronaut Leopold Eyharts of the ESA to the ISS, where he joined the station's Expedition 16 crew and will oversee the commission of Columbus over the next month. Eyharts replaced NASA astronaut Dan Tani, who will return to Earth with the STS-122 crew when they land on Feb. 19.
Poindexter, who like Love and crewmate Leland Melvin is making his first spaceflight on STS-122, said the space station is a beautiful place to work, even if it is only 57 percent complete.
"It's just a wonderful experience," Poindexter said. "It's busy work, but it sure is fun."
NASA is broadcasting Atlantis' STS-122 mission live on NASA TV. Click here for SPACE.com's shuttle mission coverage and NASA TV feed.