MOSCOW, December 21 (RIA Novosti) - NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins ventured outside the International Space Station on Saturday and completed a series of tasks to repair a broken equipment cooling system.
Working well ahead of schedule, the spacewalkers wrapped up their mission in five hours and 28 minutes, removing a degraded pump module from the station’s external Active Thermal Control System and attaching it to a stowage location on the station’s railcar.
The entire operation was broadcast live by NASA TV.
Three urgency spacewalks have been scheduled after the pump module encountered a problem on December 11 that caused temperatures in the station’s cooling lines to drop.
The malfunction did not pose an imminent threat to the ISS six-men crew, but NASA said the problem seriously hampered scientific research on the orbital outpost as all non-essential equipment on board the station had to be turned off.
With the amount of work completed on Saturday, Mastracchio and Hopkins could complete the installation of a replacement pump module during their next spacewalk on Monday.
“If necessary a third spacewalk would occur on Christmas day to finalize the installation,” NASA said.
This was the seventh spacewalk in Mastracchio’s career and the first for Hopkins, according to NASA.
The spacewalk was the 175th in support of assembly and maintenance performed on the $100 billion orbiting laboratory, built by 15 countries.
The current ISS crew also includes Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, Sergei Ryazansky and Mikhail Tyurin, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.