NASA Broadcasts Emergency Spacewalking Repairs Live

NASA Broadcasts Emergency Spacewalking Repairs Live

Two astronauts ventured out on a spacewalk today to make emergency repairs on a malfunctioning cooling line at the International Space Station.

When we first walked on the Moon in 1969, students gathered in classrooms to watch the grainy, black and white footage of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepping on to the lunar surface. Today, two astronauts embarked on a spacewalk to repair a cooling line on the International Space Station (ISS), and you can watch the whole thing on live stream from NASA TV. The astronauts, Americans Rick Mastracchi and Micheal Hopkins, are working to replace an ammonia pump with a faulty valve. The ammonia pump is part of a cooling loop to maintain the temperature aboard the ISS in the vacuum of space. The pump broke down ten days ago and forced the ISS crew to shut down all nonessential equipment and put the scientific research conducted there on hold. The astronauts will likely need to perform two or even three spacewalks to complete the repairs.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, former commander of the ISS, took to Twitter to comment about the repairs. Discussing the limitations of spacewalks, Hadfield writes, "Spacewalkers can't share oxygen like SCUBA divers. Each has a rebreather system and a spare tank, plus [we] can go back to the airlock. We're limited by CO2 removal, battery power, and crew fatigue. About 9 hours absolute maximum."

The repairs to the cooling system pump are essential to the operation of the ISS, keeping the temperature inside the station constant despite the outside temperature ranging between 250 degrees F and -250 degrees F. Weighing in at 780 pounds and close in size to a refrigerator, the pump is even more complicated to repair due to the fluid that it moves. The ammonia used in the cooling loop is a very effective refrigerant fluid, but it can cause severe burns if inhaled or touched. The astronauts must be certain that they do not bring any traces of ammonia released during the repairs back into the ISS.

The repair plan calls for the astronauts to disconnect the faulty pump today, and then remove the old pump and replace it with a new one on Monday, December 23. If the work can't be completed in the second spacewalk, a third spacewalk is planned for December 25. If the third spacewalk goes ahead, it would be the first Christmas spacewalk ever.

You can watch the repairs and listen to the commentary live from the astronauts and NASA live on NASA TV.

Source: CTV


A live televised Christmas spacewalk?
I'm keeping an eye out for Dr Who

On a more serious note, though I love all things space related, im not sure about this emergency repair live feed. Seems like the last thing they need is the added hassle of setting up cameras and dealing with supervision when making emergency repairs.

the cameras look like they are ones already fitted + helmet cameras and it doesnt seem to be concerning them in the slightest.

amazing to see them in action live like this. at one point this would of been front page news around the world but these days people barely notice

Christmas is on the 25th now? The more you know.

OT: This is pretty damn awesome!
Great publicity stunt and hopefully more people will be interested in space.

A live televised Christmas spacewalk?
I'm keeping an eye out for Dr Who

Be a bit of a dark turn if Matt Smith peggs it because of Ammonia inhalation whilst tyring to help out two americans dressed to the 9's in super-special floaty suits.

I could get behind that.

Ushiromiya Battler:
Christmas is on the 25th now? The more you know.

OT: This is pretty damn awesome!
Great publicity stunt and hopefully more people will be interested in space.

Depends on which branch of Christianity you're a fan of. I know back in the motherland it's generally the 7th of January, but back in the motherland New Year's is way more publicized.

Woo? I think. I mean, this is cool, but as someone mentioned, isn't the whole "being under the gun" so to speak a bit irritating for someone who works up there when they're doing important shtuff?

INB4 George Clooney.

Most people would give an undisclosed vital organ to be in space for a few hours. Nice to get a feed of it to see what's going on out there.

I could just imagine if the stream watchers could talk to them like some LP streams. You'd get trolls and know-it-alls trying to tell trained and well educated astronauts "Why U no use hammer?" and (nasally, nerdy voice)"Uh, that bolt was supposed to be torqued to 58 N/m. You torqued it to 57.78 N/m." Either way, I'm grabbing some popcorn Monday.

I watched some of this in equal parts awe and terror today... Nothing terrifies me more yet intrigues me at the same time as space travel and spacewalking. Knowing all thats between you and explosive decompression is a damned suit.... *shudder*
But seeing Earth from outside is just beyond my ken. I want space travel to come about in my life time so badly but I fear it won't happen.

Yeah, if my anti-cooking device broke and the only way to fix it was to go out into the infinite coldness of space, I'd be hightailing it out of there.

I guess this is why I'll never be an astronaut.

It was pretty cool being able to watch this live- I work with Mike Hopkins' wife and she let us know this was going on last Friday, so it was pretty awesome being able to watch someone you know ply their trade in zero-g in real time.


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