(HOUSTON) — Mission Control radioed up a timely bulletin to the astronauts on the International Space Station Tuesday — their spacewalk won’t interfere with Santa’s mission on Christmas Eve.
“Checked with our trajectory and ballistics officer here in Mission Control. We are not working any possible conjunctions or avoidance maneuvers for a sleigh being pulled by reindeer and occupied by a jolly man with a beard and a red suit over the next 2 days. The skies are all clear,” Houston told the astronauts.
That’s good news for Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins. The two astronauts headed out for their second spacewalk at 6:53 a.m. ET Tuesday to fix a broken cooling loop pump that has jeopardized operations on the ISS. The pump weighs 780 pounds and is about the size of a refrigerator — not exactly something Santa can stuff down a chimney into their stockings.
A Saturday spacewalk brought them halfway to the goal of repairing the pump; on Christmas Eve, they hope to finish the task.
For the second spacewalk in a row, water in the spacesuit was an issue — but not the same kind of life-threatening leak that almost drowned an Italian astronaut last July, officials said. But just to be safe, the astronauts will use a backup suit.
Hopkins will be wearing a spacesuit with white stripes, while Mastracchio will be called “EV2” and will be wearing a newly re-sized suit with red stripes. They managed to whip through their entire to-do list for the first spacewalk on Saturday, and even knocked off some items on the list for the second spacewalk.
If they finish installing the new pump, and it turns on and starts up the cooling loop, there will be great rejoicing in Mission Control. But even when the spacewalks are finished, Mission Control doesn’t shut down.
The International Space Station operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year long.
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Allie Malloy and Kevin Liptak, CNN
Jackie Wattles, CNN
Elise Labott, Kevin Liptak and Patrick Oppmann, CNN