It was the second spacewalk in three days for flight engineers
Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins, who wrapped up the cumbersome
work with only one problem.
As they were installing a spare cooling pump, a sprinkling of
ammonia crystals leaked out from one of four fluid lines. The toxic
liquid turns to flakes in the cold and weightlessness environment of
The astronauts spent an extra 15 minutes in the station's Quest
airlock to bake out any potential residue on their spacesuits. The
7.5-hour spacewalk was broadcast live on NASA Television.
"It took a couple of licks to get her done, but we got it," Hopkins
radioed to flight controllers at NASA's Mission Control Center in
The new pump will not be fully tested until later on Tuesday, but an
initial check in the final hour of the spacewalk showed it was
"alive and well," reported NASA mission commentator Rob Navias.
During a spacewalk on Saturday, the astronauts removed a failed
cooling system pump and attached it to a temporary storage site at
the base of the station's mobile rail cart.
NASA is considering a potential future spacewalk to repair the
refrigerator-size pump and use it as a spare, officials said.
In addition to the new pump installed on Tuesday, there are two
other spare pumps aboard the station, a $100 billion research
complex that flies about 260 miles above Earth.
The U.S. side of the station, which includes Japanese and European
laboratories, has been without half its cooling system since
December 11 when a valve failed inside a pump.
The six-member crew was never in any danger, NASA said, but both
cooling systems are needed to radiate heat from the station's
modules and laboratories.
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With just one cooling loop, astronauts had to turn off unnecessary
equipment and some science experiments. The Russian part of the
station has a separate cooling system.
The spacewalks were NASA's first since July when the water-cooled
spacesuit worn by Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano developed a leak.
His helmet began filling with water, a situation that could have
caused him to drown if the spacewalk was not quickly aborted.
Engineers at the time traced the problem to contaminated water in a
device that circulates water and air in a spacesuit and takes
moisture out of the air. How the water became contaminated remains
As a precaution, the helmets worn by Mastracchio and Hopkins were
outfitted with moisture-absorbent pads and snorkels that could draw
air from the belly of the spacesuits in case the problem recurred.
No leaks were reported, Navias said.
NASA decided to forego a third spacewalk to relocate the failed pump
onto a more permanent storage pallet, officials said.
Two Russian cosmonauts, meanwhile, are planning to conduct a
spacewalk on Friday to install a pair of high-fidelity cameras
outside the Zvezda service module, part of a Canadian commercial
television project. They also will swap out several science
(Editing by Kevin Gray, Maureen Bavdek and Gunna Dickson)
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