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Space station repair job makes headway.

MIAMI: A pair of spacewalking NASA astronauts disconnected a 780-pound (350-kg) module from the International Space Station on Wednesday, after venturing outside the orbital complex to repair a faulty cooling system.

Astronauts Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson, working in tandem about 200 miles (320 km) above Earth, spent 7 hours and 26 minutes outside the space station as they removed the bulky coolant pump module from a slot inside the station s central truss segment.

They then stowed the bathtub-size piece of equipment in a temporary storage area and began preparing a spare pump module for installation during a third round of spacewalking repair work set for Monday.

The repairs, and a first spacewalk on Saturday that was complicated by concerns about an ammonia leak and an unyielding module fitting, were prompted by an apparent short circuit that hobbled the cooling system on July 31.

Between Saturday and Wednesday, the work has now involved 15 hours and 29 minutes of spacewalking.

Officials at NASA s Mission Control Center in Houston told a news briefing a fourth spacewalk, after next Monday s outing, may still be required before the cooling system is ramped back up and deemed fully operational.

The failed cooling system is one of two aboard the station needed to control heat generated by equipment in the U.S., Japanese and European laboratories. The station, a $100 billion project involving 16 nations, has been under construction above the Earth since 1998.

Most of the station s science experiments and some backup life support equipment have been turned off to cut the amount of heat generated with only one cooling loop available.

NASA has said the crew of three Russian cosmonauts and three NASA astronauts aboard the station were not in any danger, though it would like to return the station to full normal systems as soon as possible.

Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2009

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Aug 14, 2010
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