Equipment water leak stalls spacewalk by 2 US astronauts

Equipment water leak stalls spacewalk by 2 US astronauts
Equipment water leak stalls spacewalk by 2 US astronauts
Author

13 May, 2017

The start of the spacewalk, originally slated to last 6.5 hours, was delayed more than an hour while the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration revamped plans due to the leak, which developed as Fischer's suit was being prepared. App users can tune in here.

In a landmark milestone, NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer are conducting the 200th spacewalk at the International Space Station on May 12.

Whitson and Fischer completed the first and most important spacewalk task faster than usual.

This is far from Whitson's first (space) rodeo, as she now holds the record for most spacewalks performed by an American woman, but it's Fischer's first time. These include replacing a large avionics box that supplies electricity and data connections for various onboard science experiments, and installing a fabric shield created to protect against micrometeorites on one of the spacecraft's pressurized mating adapters. As a result, NASA officials made a decision to limit the time spent outside the station to roughly four hours - only enough time to accomplish the primary objective.

Whitson and Fischer will replace a faulty 200-pound electronics box that routes commands and data to experiments.

The spacewalk was briefly delayed after NASA discovered a water leak in equipment that helps power their spacesuits.

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It was discovered as the astronauts were seated in the airlock inside the space station. The pair will replace the ExPRESS Carrier Avionics (ExPCA) with a fresh unit delivered last month by Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo spacecraft. "Wow, they're so blue", added the rookie spacewalker, who goes by the nickname "2Fish".

The first United States spacewalk started at 3:45 p.m. EDT on the third orbit when White opened the hatch and used the hand-held manuevering oxygen-jet gun to push himself out of the capsule. The 57-year-old Whitson has also spent more days off the planet than any other woman (more than 500 days in total) and will be recognizable by the red stripes on her space suit.

Above the bay of space shuttle Endeavor, NASA astronauts Jerry Ross and Jim Newman rode the big Canada arm during the STS-88 mission, attaching and outfitting the US Unity module with Russia's Zarya module, the first 2 components of the infant station.

After the first three minutes the fuel ran out and White maneuvered by twisting his body and pulling on the tether.

Today's spacewalk builds on a historic career for Peggy Whitson. NASA is especially wary of leaks involving spacesuits.


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