An equipment water leak shortened Friday’s spacewalk by two U.S. astronauts at the International Space Station, but they still managed to replace a faulty electronics box.
- ISS celebrates its 200th spacewalk
- Leaky hose caused spacewalk delay
Despite the initial trouble, it was a milestone moment as Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer floated outside on the station’s 200th spacewalk. NASA posted a picture of Fisher gearing up for what will be his very first spacewalk. He just blasted off into space for his first time about three weeks ago.
The astronauts wasted no time removing the old electronics box, their No. 1 chore, and plugging in a new unit. The device — a bit unwieldy at more than 5 feet long — supplies electricity and data to science experiments on the outside of the station.
During earlier preparations, a small amount of water leaked from the connection point between an umbilical hose and Fischer’s suit. The hose is one of two that provide water, oxygen, power, cooling and communications for astronauts before they float outside.
The leaky hose had to be disconnected before the spacewalk could begin. The astronauts ended up sharing Whitson’s hose while they waited, which reduced their suit battery power. As a result, Mission Control cut the spacewalk from the intended six and a half hours to four hours even before it began, and ditched all but the most important chore — replacing the electronics box.
The electronic box change-out went so well and fast that the spacewalkers had time to squeeze in a couple other chores, most notably the addition of a special data connector to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.
While it was Fisher's first spacewalk, his partner in the walk is no stranger to the task. Commander Peggy Whitson will embark on her ninth spacewalk.
However, it is a milestone for both of them since this will be the space station's 200th spacewalk to ever take place.
The very first space station spacewalk took place in December of 1998 and NASA has a list of every one that has happened since then online.
Their tasks will include replacing an avionics box that gives information to external science experiments.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.