Spacewalk success, but spacesuit issues delay NASA’s next procedure

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2014-01-07

NASA's spacewalk yesterday was a tactical success, as astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins removed a bad valve from the ammonia pump in five hours and 28 minutes—an hour faster than the 6.5-hour exercise originally planned. However, midway through the procedure, Mastracchio encountered an issue with his spacesuit that has caused NASA to delay the second of three possible missions until Tuesday.

Mastracchio started experiencing unusually cold toes during the operation, pumping up the heat inside his boots in order to continue in relative comfort. Based on the two astronaut's efficiency, NASA initially intended to get ahead of schedule with extra work yesterday. However, about two hours after Mastracchio started experiencing difficulty, he respectfully declined when Mission Control spoke of additional work. "I'd like to stow this old module and kind of clean up and call it a day," he said.

According to NPR, the suits worn on Saturday had already been altered in response to helmet flooding that nearly drowned an Italian astronaut during the summer. So Mastracchio and Hopkins went into yesterday's mission with extra safety gear—snorkels in their suits and water-absorbent pads within their helmets.

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