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Scenic overlook bolted onto ISS

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The premier - and most exclusive - place to observe Earth has been successfully latched and bolted to the planet-side port of the International Space Station's new Tranquility node, NASA said on Monday.

The Tranquility node was initially installed onto the ISS on Friday, with its cupola observation deck reattached from its launch position on the node's forward side to an Earth-facing port over the weekend.

From controls in the US laboratory Destiny, mission specialist Kathryn Hire and pilot Terry Virts used the ISS's Canadarm2 robotic arm to relocate the cupola this Sunday. Station commander Jeff Williams operated the latches and bolts that released the cupola from its launch location and fixed it to its new permanent home.

NASA said the attachment went smoothly, although there was minor delay in releasing the cupola because the bolts attaching it to the launch position had been torqued in Earth's gravity and were a bit tighter than expected.

The space agency said the cupola relocation was completed at 1:31 am EST (6:31 am GMT).

The crew members are expected to get their first peek out the cupola's still-shuttered windows on Wednesday or Thursday, following tomorrow's third scheduled spacewalk for NASA's STS-130 mission.

NASA also announced that it will prolong the shuttle mission by an extra day to give astronauts more time to configure the new Tranquility module, inside and out. Endeavour's earliest return to Kennedy Space Center is now penned for Sunday, February 21. ®

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