Spacesuit flaw postpones station repairs to Dec. 24

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A still image taken from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration television on Saturday shows astronaut Rick Mastracchio fixing a broken equipment cooling system on the International Space Station. Mastracchio and colleague Mike Hopkins are on the first of three urgent spacewalks called for due to a faulty valve that caused a partial shutdown in the system that regulates equipment temperature at the space station. AFP PHOTO

A still image taken from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration television on Saturday shows astronaut Rick Mastracchio fixing a broken equipment cooling system on the International Space Station. Mastracchio and colleague Mike Hopkins are on the first of three urgent spacewalks called for due to a faulty valve that caused a partial shutdown in the system that regulates equipment temperature at the space station. AFP PHOTO

WASHINGTON: A new flaw has emerged with a US-made spacesuit, forcing National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to delay until Christmas Eve the next outing to repair the International Space Station, the space agency said on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

The problem came up in a system that handles water condensation in veteran astronaut Rick Mastracchio’s spacesuit after he reentered the space station airlock following a spacewalk that lasted 5.5 hours, NASA said.

It was not believed to be the same type of issue that caused a dangerous water leak in the helmet of Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano in July.

An investigation into that situation is ongoing.


Faced with unexpected repairs due to an equipment cooling breakdown at the orbiting lab on December 11, NASA arranged makeshift snorkels inside the 35-year-old spacesuits and absorbent pads in the helmets for these spacewalks in case such a leak happened again.

“During repressurization of the station’s airlock following the spacewalk, a spacesuit configuration issue put the suit Mastracchio was wearing in question for the next excursion—specifically whether water entered into the suit’s sublimator inside the airlock,” the space agency said in a statement.

“This issue is not related to the spacesuit water leak that was seen during a July spacewalk.”

Now, astronauts are planning to work on resizing a spare spacesuit aboard the ISS for Mastracchio, 53, to wear on the next spacewalk to complete the ammonia pump module replacement.

The outing was initially set for Monday, but will now take place Tuesday, beginning at 7:10 a.m. (1210 GMT).

NASA released the news late Saturday, after the spacewalk by the two American astronauts went faster than planned and appeared to go off without a hitch.

AFP

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