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Rare all-female astronaut spacewalk delayed due to space station coolant leak

Rare all-female astronaut spacewalk delayed due to space station coolant leak


Two astronauts scheduled to exit the airlock of the International Space Station on Thursday will wait until later this year after a coolant leak outside the ISS caused NASA to reshuffle the spacewalk schedule.

NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara and European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen were scheduled to conduct a spacewalk this week. However, after a coolant leak, mission engineers are assessing the conditions outside the ISS and delaying the spacewalk until later this year.

NASA said a backup radiator on the ISS’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module began leaking coolant and stopped on Oct. 6, changing the environment around the ISS. O’Hara and Mogensen were scheduled to collect microorganisms outside the ISS as part of an experiment.

“The spacewalk date was adjusted to allow engineers additional time to complete analysis of the coolant leak,” NASA said. “The coolant is not toxic or hazardous for the crew, but experts are discussing how to best keep small traces of the substance from getting into some internal systems to avoid equipment degradation over time.”

The coolant leak also delayed another spacewalk for O’Hara and NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli and is now scheduled for Oct. 30. 

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This will be a rare all-female spacewalk, only the fourth in history. The first by NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch happened in 2019 after more than 20 years of the ISS operating in low-Earth orbit. 

O’Hara and Moghbeli will conduct a six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk to remove electronics gear and replace solar array hardware on the outside of the ISS.

Two Russian cosmonauts are also scheduled to conduct a spacewalk in October. On Oct. 25, cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub will complete maintenance tasks for Roscosmos outside the ISS.

O’Hara and Mogensen will conduct the microorganism collection during Spacewalk 90 later this year.



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