NASA astronauts begin urgent spacewalking repairs to revive cooling system at orbiting station - InfoNews

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NASA astronauts begin urgent spacewalking repairs to revive cooling system at orbiting station

In this image made from video provided by NASA, astronaut Rick Mastracchio performs a space walk outside the International Space Station on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins ventured out of the station to try to revive a crippled cooling line. (AP Photo/NASA)
December 21, 2013 - 4:20 AM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Astronauts have stepped out on the first of a series of urgent repair spacewalks at the International Space Station.

The two Americans on the crew floated outside Saturday morning. They will disconnect an ammonia pump that contains a bad valve. The breakdown has crippled the space station's critical cooling system for the past 1 1/2 weeks.

The pump replacement is a huge undertaking attempted only once before, in 2010. NASA has ordered up three spacewalks to complete the job. The next one will be Monday.

Astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins will go back out again Christmas Day, if any work remains.

The six-man crew had to turn off all nonessential equipment inside the orbiting lab following the malfunction on Dec. 11. Scientific research came to a near-halt.

News from © The Associated Press, 2013
The Associated Press

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