Science News
Published: Dec 22, 2013
Urgent space station repairs [PHOTOS and VIDEO]
by staff

Urgent space station repairs [PHOTOS and VIDEO], Two U.S. astronauts completed an urgent spacewalk to make emergency repairs to part of the International Space Station ahead of schedule and without incident, NASA said.

In fact, the walk went so good they were able to get a head start on tasks scheduled for a second spacewalk Monday -- and if that trip goes according to plan the pair will all be able to scrap a third scheduled walk and take a day off on Christmas, NBC reported.
The astronauts, Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins, are part of a six-man crew manning the space station. The two were forced to repair an ammonia-fueled cooling module that had failed as part of what NASA said was expected eventual maintenance to the station.

The module's failure caused all non-critical systems to be shut down on the space station, which has been manned continuously since 2000.

While no spacewalk can be called routine, officials had expressed added concern after an Italian astronaut almost drowned during the last spacewalk when water began collecting in his helmet. NASA said it was likely some previously undetected contamination in the fluid removal unit on the suit that caused the buildup. As a precaution, both Mastracchio and Hopkins wore fluid-soaking pads around their necks so they would be able to detect any water buildup. Additionally, the men's suits were outfitted with snorkels.

Neither astronaut reported any kind of fluid buildup, NBC said.

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