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13 May 2017, 01:19 | Candice Butler
Equipment water leak stalls spacewalk by 2 US astronauts
NASA celebrated an important milestone Friday: its 200th spacewalk on the International Space Station. Today's trek into space marks the 200th spacewalk at the International Space Station.
The first U.S. spacewalk started at 3:45 p.m. EDT on the third orbit when White opened the hatch and used the hand-held manuevering oxygen-jet gun to push himself out of the capsule.
But as the astronauts were suited up and preparing to go into the de-pressurization airlock, they noticed a water leak at the connection point of Fischer's spacesuit and the station's cooling and power system "umbilical cord". Some water in Fischer's helmet delayed the spacewalk a bit, as it was supposed to begin at 6:30am EDT, but he and Whitson seem ready to head out. These include replacing a large avionics box that supplies electricity and data connections for various onboard science experiments, and installing a fabric shield created to protect against micrometeorites on one of the spacecraft's pressurized mating adapters.
The spacewalk was briefly delayed after NASA discovered a "small leak of water" in equipment that helps power their spacesuits. She holds the record for most spacewalks by a woman. This was her ninth. NASA is especially wary of leaks involving spacesuits.
The station orbits the Earth at a height of about 250 miles (400 kilometers), circling the planet every 90 minutes at a speed of about 17,500 miles (28,000 kilometers) per hour. In 2013, an Italian astronaut nearly drowned during a spacewalk when water from the suit's cooling system flooded his helmet.
Left off Friday's to-do list because of this latest water leak: installing a micrometeorite shield on a docking port for future commercial crew capsules; plugging in a new high-definition camera and wireless antennas; and adding a special data connector to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a high-profile particle physics instrument still working but in need of future repairs. Whitson spent 4 hours and 15 minutes outside the space station, while Fischer spent 4 hours and 13 minutes in space.
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