Spacewalk interrupted by faulty suit

Two astronauts from the International Space Station have had their spacewalk interrupted by a fault in one of their suits.

    Both astronauts had planned not to be home for about five hours

    Popping out for a few hours on Thursday would have left the outpost empty and was originally deemed a Russian risk that NASA objected to.
       
    On previous spacewalks, a third astronaut has always remained behind in case of some emergency - such as a stuck hatch or power failure.

    But the grounding of US space shuttles has left the station with only two occupants.
       
    Five hour mission

    The station's British-born commander, Michael Foale, and Russian flight engineer Alexander Kaleri wore Russian spacesuits as they floated free of the airlock on a five-to-six-hour mission - only to return much sooner than planned.
       
    Their job was to retrieve some experiments, set up other experiments and make early preparations for the arrival of a new European Space Agency cargo ship scheduled to fly for the first time later this year. 
       

    "Our Russian colleagues were very helpful in helping us think through the scenarios and what the response to those might be"

    Sally Davis,
    NASA Flight Director

    NASA officials acknowledge they first balked when their Russian counterparts requested the outing last summer, saying it would be better to wait until US space shuttles, grounded after the Columbia accident last year, were once again cleared for flight.
       
    Improved relations

    Cultural differences have sometimes marred relations between the two senior partners in the 17-nation venture, but NASA Flight Director Sally Davis said that once both sides sat down to iron out problems, they set a new bar for cooperation.
       
    The Russians, with their long experience running space stations, have made dozens of spacewalks while leaving their Mir and Salyut stations empty, but the Americans were unprepared and had to develop contingency plans for every conceivable emergency.
       
    "I think for us it was a matter of getting comfortable. If we had an off-nominal situation, exactly how we were going to respond," said Davis.
       
    "In fact, our Russian colleagues were very helpful in helping us think through the scenarios and what the response to those might be. When you're working on technical problems like that, the cultural differences almost disappear."

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Meet the deported nurse aiding asylum seekers at US-Mexico border

    Meet the deported nurse helping refugees at the border

    Francisco 'Panchito' Olachea drives a beat-up ambulance around Nogales, taking care of those trying to get to the US.

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    How a homegrown burger joint pioneered a food revolution and decades later gave a young, politicised class its identity.

    'We will cut your throats': The anatomy of Greece's lynch mobs

    The brutality of Greece's racist lynch mobs

    With anti-migrant violence hitting a fever pitch, victims ask why Greek authorities have carried out so few arrests.