Astronauts begin new spacewalk

Published: Sunday 1st March 2015 by The News Editor

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Two Nasa astronauts have ventured out of the International Space Station in their third spacewalk in just over a week.

Terry Virts and Butch Wilmore went into space with 400ft of cable and two antennas to install.

Once that is complete, the spacewalkers will have routed nearly 800ft of power and data lines needed for future US crew capsules.

Nasa is paying Boeing and SpaceX nearly 7 billion US dollars (£4.5 billion) to develop spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts to the space station. The first manned flight is targeted for 2017 and new docking ports will be flown up later this year.

Mr Virts and Mr Wilmore’s first spacewalk was on February 21 and the second on Wednesday. Nasa has not conducted such quick spacewalks since its former shuttle days.

“Good luck, guys,” Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti said from inside the station as the spacewalk got under way.

Before approving the spacewalk, engineers spent two days analysing a water leak in Mr Virts’ helmet that occurred on Wednesday when he was back in the air lock and the chamber was being repressurised.

Engineers concluded it was the result of condensation, which has occurred several times before with the same spacesuit. Nr Virts was never in danger, according to Nasa.

Mr Wilmore’s suit functioned perfectly during the first two spacewalks, but today, a pressure sensor briefly malfunctioned before he floated out. A mechanical gauge, however, was operating fine. Mission Control told Mr Wilmore he would need to pay extra attention to how his suit was feeling throughout the seven-hour excursion.

He is due to return to Earth next week following a five and a half month mission. Mr Virts is midway through his expedition. Russian Soyuz spacecraft carried them both up, with Nasa paying for a multimillion-pound charge.

Published: Sunday 1st March 2015 by The News Editor

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