Water leak delays historic 200th spacewalk


Two NASA astronauts are floating around in the void outside the International Space Station Friday.

Astronauts kicked off space station construction in orbit in 1998.

Mission control radioed the astronauts that Friday's spacewalk will be limited to run around four hours, not the six-and-a-half hour duration originally planned, due to the problem. These include replacing a large avionics box that supplies electricity and data connections for various onboard science experiments, and installing a fabric shield created to protect against micrometeorites on one of the spacecraft's pressurized mating adapters. Fischer's suit itself is perfectly fine, ' said Navias.

The official start time, 9:08 am (1308 GMT), was about two hours after it was supposed to begin, according to NASA. The hose provides water, power, cooling and communications for astronauts before they float outside.

Playing it safe, flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center made a decision to shorten the spacewalk to four hours and to eliminate all tasks other than the highest priority item, replacement of a 200-pound avionics box on an external logistics platform.

With landing September 3, Whitson's total time in space over three missions will stand at 666 days, moving her up to eighth in the world, just behind Yurchikhin at No. 7 with 673 days in orbit and six other cosmonauts.

But as the astronauts were suited up and preparing to go into the de-pressurization airlock, they noticed a water leak at the connection point of Fischer's spacesuit and the station's cooling and power system "umbilical cord". The 200 mark includes assembly and maintenance by Russian spacewalkers as well as United States.

In light of that, it's pretty unbelievable that there haven't been any astronaut or cosmonaut deaths or serious injuries during spacewalks since they began at the station in 1998. The replacement unit arrived at the ISS last month on a Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft. NASA is especially wary of leaks involving spacesuits. Soon, spacecraft launched from the USA will dock here to deliver future NASA astronauts. The adaptor will enable companies like SpaceX and Boeing to visit the station, making it an important port for the future of space exploration.

Today, the $100 billion orbiting lab is roughly the size of a football field and a symbol of global cooperation among the 15 nations that have helped build and operate it.