Equipment water leak stalls spacewalk by 2 US astronauts

"Ginormous fondue pot, bubbling over with piping hot awesomesauce", said American astronaut Jack Fischer, as he embarked on his first-ever spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Friday.

The astronauts and plugged in a new unit. Their mission? To replace a large avionics box that helps power the science experiments onboard the space station.

During preparations earlier in the morning, a small amount of water leaked from the connection point between an umbilical hose and Fischer's suit.

'This is the connection point of the component in the airlock itself that provides power, oxygen, cooling water and communications lines to the two crew members while they are in the process of biding their time, pre-breathing pure oxygen, in the airlock itself'.

The first USA spacewalk started at 3:45 p.m. EDT on the third orbit when White opened the hatch and used the hand-held manuevering oxygen-jet gun to push himself out of the capsule. The astronauts ended up sharing Whitson's hose while they waited, which reduced their suit battery power.

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The spacewalk was originally slated to last six hours or so, but NASA is shortening it to about four hours.

Whitson then installed a connector to route data to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, which measures cosmic rays, 100 billion cosmic rays to date.

The pair of spacewalkers will also hook up a new HD camera and a set of wireless antennas on the outside of the ISS.

As the spacewalk drew to a close, Whitson - the world's most experienced female astronaut - said it was "amazing" to have taken part in the landmark spacewalk. They had to pass on replacing the electronics box due to the equipment issues. She already holds the US record for most spacewalks by a female astronaut. She holds the record for the most spacewalks by a female USA astronaut, and today's outing will be her ninth. She doesn't return to Earth until September.

This is far from Whitson's first (space) rodeo, as she now holds the record for most spacewalks performed by an American woman, but it's Fischer's first time.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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