NASA is hoping a Christmas Eve spacewalk outside the International Space Station should fix an external cooling line that will allow astronauts to continue living there.
On Saturday, astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins took to space to remove a faulty pump, according to The Associated Press
. The news service reported that a bad valve in the pump caused the breakdown. The cooling line shut down Dec. 11.
The astronauts disconnected the refrigerator-size pump from four ammonia fluid lines and moved it to a temporary storage spot on the outside of the station, according to the Los Angeles Times
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A spacewalk had been planned for Monday but it was moved to Tuesday, NASA told the AP. Mastracchio inadvertently hit the water switch Saturday in the air lock following Saturday's spacewalk, and NASA said his spacesuit needed to dry before being used again.
The two-man team will affix the spare pump and, if they have time, connect it to the ammonia fluid lines.
"We are not working any possible conjunctions or avoidance maneuvers for a sleigh being pulled by reindeer and occupied by a jolly man with a beard and a red suit over the next two days," NASA spokesman Rob Navias said during a NASA TV update on Monday, according to NBC News
. "The skies are all clear."
NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries told NBC News that Saturday's spacewalk went so well that if Mastracchio and Hopkins have the same success, they can forgo a planned third spacewalk.
"They do think they can wrap it up in two. ... If the reconnections go as smoothly as the disconnections did, we should be able to do everything we need to do in less than the six and a half hours that's planned," said Humphries.
He said the job of putting the old pump module in its designated storage area could be put off for another time.
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The AP reported that another astronaut will assist the spacewalks inside the space station by operating its robotic arm.
NASA last conducted a Christmas Eve spacewalk during a repair of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1999, according to the AP.
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