NASA’s Mission Control has revealed the problem that prompted the early end of the latest spacewalk: Water in one of the astronaut’s 35-year-old spacesuits.
Expedition 38 Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio and fellow astronaut Michael Hopkins ran into trouble while they were conducting an urgent repair outside the International Space Station during a spacewalk that lasted five hours and 28 minutes.
The spacewalk ended short of its anticipated six-and-a-half-hour time frame when Mastracchio, the lead spacewalker, began complaining about chilly temperatures in his space suit.
The seven-time spacewalker said his feet were cold during at least part of the nearly five-and-a-half-hour walk and at times had to re-adjust temperature controls in his suit.
Even before the emergency repair mission began, NASA acknowledged it was working with aging spacesuits, which were designed in the same era of the space shuttle.
“Because the suits are 35 years old we review the hazards every so often as a matter of course,” NASA’s ISS Program Manager, Mike Suffredini told ABC News Radio.
And you thought it was strange that the Air Force was still flying half-century-old B-52s. While I have neckties that date back to President Reagan’s second term, and at least one suit I know I purchased when Bush-41 was still in office in the early-1990s, it must be feel particularly nerve-racking to be in an oxygen-free environment knowing that the only thing between life and sudden death is a space suit that was built — if it really is 35 years old — during the Carter era. (I’m half-surprised they don’t have bell-bottoms or built-in 8-track tape players.)
(Found via Rand Simberg.)