At 12:29pm E.S.T. on Saturday, NASA Astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins completed the first in a series of repairs needed to replace a faulty ammonia pump module on the International Space Station. The module is part of the Space Stations cooling system, particularly focused on cooling computer and scientific equipment on board the station. The damage was first noted on December 11.
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The two astronauts completed the repair during a 5-hour, 28 minute spacewalk to remove a pump module from the station’s thermal control systems.
During the spacewalk, Hopkins left the station and immediately headed towards the site. Mastracchio, on the other hand, had a funner ride. He was attached to a foot restraint at the end of the 57-foot robotic arm that’s part of the space station. Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata operated the robot to move Mastracchio to the worksite, and maneuvered him in position for various tasks during the repair.
The repairs performed on Saturday were originally scheduled to be performed on two separate spacewalks. However, the astronauts performed their tasks way ahead of schedule, enabling what had been originally planned as 2 separate, 6-hour spacewalks to be completed in one go.
The second half of the repair, installing a replacement pump module, is currently scheduled to take place on Tuesday, December 24. This repair was originally scheduled for Monday. However, due to issues with the spacesuit that Rick Mastracchio is using, the spacewalk was pushed forward 24 hours.
Due to these issues, Mastracchio will be using a backup spacesuit instead. The extra time will be used to re-size the spacesuit so that Mastracchio can use it. If all goes well with that process, then Mastracchio and Hopkins will begin their spacewalk at 7:10pm on December 24th.
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