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UPDATE: NASA astronauts begin urgent spacewalking repairs

UPDATED: Saturday, December 21, 2013 --- 6:15 a.m.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Astronauts have stepped out on the first of a series of urgent repair spacewalks at the International Space Station.

The two Americans on the crew floated outside Saturday morning. They will disconnect an ammonia pump that contains a bad valve. The breakdown has crippled the space station's critical cooling system for the past 1 1/2 weeks.

The pump replacement is a huge undertaking attempted only once before, in 2010. NASA has ordered up three spacewalks to complete the job. The next one will be Monday.

Astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins will go back out again 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.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press
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Posted Wednesday, December 11, 2013 --- 6:02 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- NASA says it is looking into a problem with a malfunctioning cooling pump on the International Space Station, but there is no immediate danger to the six crewmen on board.

Agency spokesman Kelly Humphries says the problem may eventually be serious, but is not an emergency at the moment.

Humphries says the faulty external pump stopped working but is now up and running. It is part of one of the two cooling systems aboard the orbital outpost. He says as a precaution, the three Russians, two Americans and one Japanese crew members aboard shut down some minor operating systems to reduce the power load.

Engineers are trying to figure out if this is hardware or software problem.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


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