Space Station Repairs Ahead of Schedule
By Jim Meadows
Two astronauts, including University of Illinois graduate Mike Hopkins, are working ahead of schedule on an urgent repair job outside the International Space Station.
Hopkins and fellow astronaut Rick Mastracchio are trying to make a complicated repair on a crippled cooling line. They have to replace an ammonia pump containing a bad valve, a task that's only been done once before -- on the same unit, in 2010.
As of 11 AM Central Time on Saturday, the two astronauts had completed the primary task for the s spacewalk, detaching four fluid quick disconnects from the degraded pump module on the starboard truss of the International Space Station, according to the space station's Facebook page.
Because they're working well ahead of schedule, mission control in Houston has given the go-ahead for the two spacewalkers to press ahead to accomplish the first planned task for a second spacewalk scheduled for Monday. That task involves completely removing the degraded ammonia pump module from the truss and attaching it to a stowage location on the Payload Orbital Replacement Unit Accommodation (POA) on the station’s railcar, or Mobile Base System.
NASA ordered up three spacewalks to complete the job. The third spacewalk will take place 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.
(Additional Reporting by the Associated Press)