Equipment water leak shortens spacewalk by 2 U.S. astronauts

Expedition 51 Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA is seen inside the International Space Station (ISS) in his spacesuit during a fit check, in preparation for a spacewalk on Friday, May 12.

Astronauts kicked off space station construction in orbit in 1998.

It is the ninth spacewalk in Whitson's career, and the first for Fischer. It wasn't originally assigned as Fischer's task, so Whitson and NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, spacewalk communicator back on the ground, guided him through the steps.

Whitson and Fischer were so speedy, they were then able to tackle a few other tasks which, due to the water leak delay, NASA doubted could be done in the limited time. The hose is one of two that provide water, oxygen, power, cooling and communications for astronauts before they float outside.

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The duo will replace an avionics box that routes command and data information to external science experiments.

But as the astronauts were suited up and preparing to go into the de-pressurization airlock, they noticed a water leak at the connection point of Fischer's spacesuit and the station's cooling and power system "umbilical cord".

One day later, Soyuz MS-03 commander Oleg Novitskiy and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet plan to return to Earth, landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan to close out a 196-day mission.

"It has been exhibiting some thermal issues of late, so it is being replaced", he said.

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The first spacewalk at the ISS was done December 7, 1988 by astronauts Jerry Ross and Jim Newman.

Whitson, 57, broke the record for most cumulative time in space by an American astronaut in April of this year. Jerry Ross and Jim Newman attached the first two components to the station, the Russian Zarya module and the U.S. Unity module.

After the first three minutes the fuel ran out and White maneuvered by twisting his body and pulling on the tether.

Today, the $100 billion orbiting lab is roughly the size of a football field and a symbol of global cooperation among the 15 nations that have helped build and operate it.

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