NASA Orders Astronaut Spacewalks to Fix International Space Station

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 17 2013 6:34 PM

NASA Orders Astronaut Spacewalks to Fix International Space Station

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Astronauts will perform three spacewalks to fix cooling system on International Space Station.

Photo by NASA via Getty Images

NASA has decided that a series of astronaut spacewalks is necessary to make repairs to the International Space Station. On Tuesday, station managers decided to send two American astronauts to fix a broken cooling line as soon as possible, the Associated Press reports. In what the AP describes as a major job for the astronauts, the repairs will require three spacewalks on Saturday, Monday and Christmas Day.

Last week the station’s cooling system malfunctioned and half of the system was shut down, forcing the crew to shut down all nonessential equipment. The move was designed to take the pressure off the cooling system, which is used to dispel heat that’s generated by equipment onboard. NASA’s decision to send the astronauts on spacewalks, USA Today reports, “came after efforts to regulate temperatures in one of the station's two external loops apparently were unsuccessful.”

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"It's a serious problem, obviously," American astronaut Rick Mastracchio said in an interview with SPACE.com on Friday. "It's something we have to fix. It's not something I'm worried about though." The spacewalks will be the first since they were suspended for American astronauts in July following a scare where an Italian astronaut nearly drowned when his spacesuit started leaking causing his helmet to fill with water while outside the station.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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