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Merry Christmas! Astronauts Conduct Emergency Repairs On ISS Cooling System

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spacewalkUnless his flying reindeer are truly amazing, like Falcor, Santa probably doesn’t make it to space. Or maybe he does, and that’s actually where he is the other 364 days of the Earth year. A galactic sleigh would have come in pretty handy at the ISS this Christmas, as astronauts had to attend to an emergency situation that led to a holiday spacewalk. You know, to take in all the lights.

I mean, they’re not decorating the tree, making a holiday dinner, or getting drunk on eggnog, so why not?

American astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins have gotten to walk in space twice in the past four days. Today’s was the second Christmas Eve spacewalk ever. Is there a best day for a spacewalk? I think I’d like to do it on New Year’s Day, maybe. I probably wouldn’t enjoy an emergency spacewalk at any time, though, and that’s what these were. NASA helpfully tweeted along the way and provided a video feed.

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ISS Spacewalk Cancelled Today Due To Helmet Leakage

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issThere’s a big difference between me and astronauts, and it involves the amount of professional training required, not to mention overall space suit photogeneity. That’s an obvious statement, I know, but having familiarity with certain situations is underrated in my book.

Today was supposed to be the second spacewalk of the month for International Space Station (ISS) flight engineers Chris Cassidy of NASA and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency, but the repair mission was ended early and postponed until a later date. The reason? Just a little helmet leakage is all.

The spacewalk officially started this morning at 7:57 a.m. EDT, but just an hour into it, Parmitano reported there was water floating inside of his helmet, just behind his head. This is where that training comes in handy; if it had happened to me in my current state of non-astronautness, the question wouldn’t be if anyone could hear screaming in space, but if there was any way to make it stop.

The leakage wasn’t an emergency situation, and Parmitano was never in any danger, but Flight Director David Korth decided to halt the mission at that point. Both men went back to the airlock, which depressurized at 9:39 a.m. It was the 171st spacewalk intended for system assembly and maintenance, and its 1 hour and 32 minute duration made it the second shortest of all. Not the coolest silver medal to get, but at least no one got hurt.