The Christian Science Monitor points out that staying in space will require complex and dangerous repairs from time to time. This time it was an array of solar panels. Scott Parazynski made the repairs farther from the airlock than any astronaut had ever been, his boots locked onto an extension at the end of a 50-foot boom. The boom was held by the station’s “Canadarm” or robotic arm. The article mentions that the astronaut chosen to do the repair, Scott Parazynski, is 6’2″ tall (190 cm) and that he stretched out to do the repair. Perhaps he was chosen for his height and length of reach. Col. Douglas Wheelock was tethered to the array to relay what he saw for the operators of the Canadarm and for Dr. Parazynski, Dr. Parazinski had to work without touching the solar cells of the array.
Whatever we might think of continuing to build a space station that is scheduled to fall to earth in a few years and of using scarce research funds to do trivial experiments, it was impressive.