Astronauts Conduct Third Spacewalk

The crews at the International Space Station are sleeping now, but earlier this morning two astronauts spent six-and-a-half hours outside the craft. Rod Rice reports on the third and final space walk of the mission.

The work today was finishing up the installation of a replacement ammonia tank and getting the old back into the shuttle for a return to earth.  Lead Flight Director for the International Space Station Ron Spenser says the installation went fine. A problem surfaced though when ground controllers tried to bring the system the new system back on line.

"We did not successfully get a nitrogen valve to operate which would allow us to pressurize that ammonia tank.  So, engineers are off working that problem right now to see what we can do to fix this sticky valve."

It could end up being a big deal because if it can't be fixed the space station might have less power than it needs.

"If we do have to power down half the station we'll have to evaluate. We have a prioritized list of what we have when we have power problems and I don't know if over the long term we would decide to reduce the manning of the station or not."

Spenser says adding another spacewalk to this or a future mission to make the repair is the last thing they want to do because it would disrupt already planned mission activities.  He says ground control has some tricks up its sleeve to try to fix the problem.


Bio photo of Rod Rice

Rod Rice

Local Anchor, Morning Edition

Rod Rice became fascinated with radio at an early age, while sitting on his Grandfather’s lap listening to his "programs" on the big Emerson Radio...