The Associated Press this week announced NASA has decided to go forward with a space walk in an effort to fix a broken cooling line aboard the International Space Station. Two American astronauts have been chosen for the job, the report says, which NASA expects could go into Christmas Day. “The next week will be busy with space walks so not much tweeting from here,” said Rick Masstracchio, one of the astronauts picked to perform the “massive repair job.”
Last week, the ISS’s cooling system shut down because of a valve failure, forcing the crew to shut down all nonessential equipment. NASA hopes the two-man team can swap the faulty pump in two spacewalks, though there could be a third on Christmas Day depending on how quickly the team can work. There hasn’t been a U.S.-led spacewalk since July after an astronaut nearly drowned after water leaked into his helmet.
While the crew is in no imminent danger, the cooling system is important because it pumps ammonia through the lines, which is vital for dispelling heat from onboard equipment. NASA said it wants to fix the issue as quickly as possible to prevent and plan for future incidents. The same pump was replaced back in 2010, and required three astronauts to handle the 780-pound bundle. The first walk is scheduled for this Saturday, followed by another one on Monday and a potential third to occur on Christmas Day.