The pair worked outside the shuttle for a total of five hours, during which time they changed the power system from a temporary to a permanent status and relocated two equipment carts.
Fuglesang also managed to catch an admiring glimpse of the Northern Lights shimmering above his native land.
“Wow,” said Fuglesang, his eyes resting on the magnificent aurora borealis.
“Is that an aurora? I think it is,” he said.
“Yes, it’s definitely an aurora, Christer. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of them before,” said Curbeam.
“No, I haven’t seen so many in Stockhom,” Fuglesang replied.
“It’s so beautiful,” said Curbeam.
“Oh yeah, it’s cool, the whole horizon is an aurora,” said Fuglesang, hanging on to the space station’s robot arm.
After a moment however the particle physicist in him took over and he began explaining about how the Northern Lights are the result of solar eruptions.
Fuglesang and Curbeam quickly returned to work, implementing a total of 4,000 orders from the Houston command centre. The complicated operation was eventually completed one hour ahead of schedule.
A member of the ground control staff dusted down some ancient Swedish skills.
“So, Christer, would you say that this is ‘fina fisken’?”
“Yes, it’s fina fisken,” replied Fuglesang.
The controller had the last word, replying “jättebra” (fantastic) in a broad American accent.
‘Fina fisken’ literally means ‘fine fish’, but is also a colloquialism meaning ‘top notch’.
The new permanent power system will make it possible for six people to stay on the International Space Station at any given time. Up until now a crew of three has had to spend most of its time dealing with maintenance and other practicalities.