Spacewalk shortened by storm fears

 

 Astronauts completed an abbreviated spacewalk outside the International Space Station yesterday after getting a look at powerful Hurricane Dean, which may force shuttle Endeavour to land a day early.

Television shots from space showed Dean's massive swirl of clouds, with the eye clearly visible as the storm roared through the Caribbean Sea with 150 mph (240 kph) winds.

"Holy smoke," said Mr Clay Anderson, as he paused from his work to take a look from 200 miles above the Earth.

"Man, that's impressive," said Mr Dave Williams.

"Very. They're only impressive when they're not coming to you," Mr Anderson said.

The two hustled through a reduced work schedule readying the station for upcoming additions as NASA prepared for possibly landing Endeavour on Tuesday, a day earlier than planned.

The US space agency was concerned that Dean could force evacuation of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, home of Mission Control, if it enters the Gulf of Mexico as forecast next week.

The shuttle is set to land at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which is not expected to be affected by Dean. NASA said Mission Control's functions could be moved to Kennedy if necessary.