On Saturday, as toxic ammonia was recovered from the suits from the International Space Station’s external cooling system, Spacewalking astronauts were intimated to take extra safety precautions.
Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins removed and vented a couple of old jumper cables to eliminate any ammonia remaining in the lines. But so much ammonia spread out of the first hose that Mission Control bothered some of the frozen white flakes might have gotten on their suits.
Hopkins was shocked at the amount of ammonia unleashed into the vacuum of space. “Oh yeah, look at that go. Did you see that?” he asked flight controllers. “There’s more than I thought.”
However, the stream of ammonia was led away from the astronauts and the space station, Hopkins said some icy crystals may have contacted his helmet. As a result, Mission Control said it was going to “be conservative” and require inspections.
The astronauts’ first suit check found nothing amiss. “Looks clean,” Hopkins called down.
NASA particularly did not want any ammonia going inside the space station and polluting the cabin atmosphere. The astronauts handled long tools to vent the hoses and stayed clear of the nozzles, to reduce the risk of ammonia contact.
Once the ammonia hoses were cleared, the astronauts drove one of them to a more central location near the NASA hatch, in case it’s wanted on the opposite end of the station. The ammonia jumper cables were joined years ago following a cooling system leak.
Eager to get these station promotions done before the astronauts head home this spring, Mission Control fixed up the bonus spacewalk for Glover and Hopkins, who launched last November on SpaceX. They teamed up for back-to-back spacewalks 1 1/2 months ago and were happy to chalk up another.
“It was a good day,” Glover said once back inside.
However, most of their efforts paid off, there were a few hindrances.
The spacewalk has begun nearly an hour late, so the men could return the communication caps under their helmets to hear correctly. A few hours later, Glover’s right eye started watering. The irritation was gone soon but later moved to his left eye.
Then as Glover covered up his work, a bolt came alone and floated away along with the washers, becoming the latest pieces of space junk.
“Sorry about that,” Glover said. “No, no, it’s not your fault,” Mission Control assured him.t was the sixth spacewalk — and, barring an emergency, the last — for this U.S.-Russian-Japanese crew of seven. All but one was led by NASA.