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13 May 2017, 01:16 | Virginia Benson
Courtesy NASA TV
Expedition 51 commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer are performing a landmark 200th spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday. The fabric shield she and Fischer will be installing is a replacement for one that Whitson lost on a previous spacewalk.
The U.S. space agency made it clear throughout the mission that Fischer's suit was fine and the leak was contained.
"Today threw us a lot of curve balls", Mission Control said, but noted the astronauts "hit a grand slam".
The glitch affected equipment known as the servicing and cooling umbilical (SCU), which supplies power and oxygen to the spacesuits worn by veteran USA astronaut Peggy Whitson and her rookie counterpart, Jack Fischer. As a result, NASA officials chose to limit the time spent outside the station to roughly four hours - only enough time to accomplish the primary objective.
The spacewalk was briefly delayed after NASA discovered a water leak in equipment that helps power their spacesuits.
The glitch affected equipment known as the servicing and cooling umbilical (SCU), which supplies power and oxygen to the spacesuits.
A small amount of water leaked from the connection point between an umbilical hose and Jack Fischer's suit.
'This is not the suit itself. The hose provides water, power, cooling and communications for astronauts before they float outside. "Wow, they're so blue", added the rookie spacewalker, who goes by the nickname "2Fish".
Spacewalks usually last about six and a half hours, but Friday's would be "abbreviated" due to the late start and would last about four hours, Navias said. The pair will replace the ExPRESS Carrier Avionics (ExPCA) with a fresh unit delivered last month by Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo spacecraft.
It weighs 200 pounds (91 kilograms) on Earth and routes data and commands to experiments inside the space station, Navias said.
"It has been exhibiting some thermal issues of late, so it is being replaced", explained Navias. 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. For Fischer, it's his first.
This morning's spacewalk began just after 9 am EST. With coverage starting at 6.30 a.m.
Friday's spacewalk might seem a bit routine compared to NASA's first ISS spacewalk in 1998 when astronauts were putting the station together.
NASA's bulky white spacesuits are aging, and the same models have been in use for four decades.
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