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Astronaut Briefly Stranded On Spacewalk: 'How Much Longer?'

Astronaut Steve Bowen works outside the International Space Station's Quest airlock during Monday's spacewalk. Bowen's spacewalk was unexpectedly extended by a computer malfunction. i i

hide captionAstronaut Steve Bowen works outside the International Space Station's Quest airlock during Monday's spacewalk. Bowen's spacewalk was unexpectedly extended by a computer malfunction.

NASA TV
Astronaut Steve Bowen works outside the International Space Station's Quest airlock during Monday's spacewalk. Bowen's spacewalk was unexpectedly extended by a computer malfunction.

Astronaut Steve Bowen works outside the International Space Station's Quest airlock during Monday's spacewalk. Bowen's spacewalk was unexpectedly extended by a computer malfunction.

NASA TV

Two astronauts from the space shuttle Discovery went on a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station today, a trip that was extended a little longer than astronaut Steve Bowen would have liked.

Steve Bowen and Alvin Drew were sent out to take care of several maintenance jobs — like installing a power extension cable, and moving around a failed pump module. But when a computer workstation shut down unexpectedly, Bowen was stranded in space.

Here's an excerpt from an AP report:

The spacewalk was interrupted at the two-hour mark when a robotic work station shut down in the orbiting lab. The astronauts operating the robot arm — with spacewalker Stephen Bowen perched on its end — rushed to another computer station in another room.

It took a while to get the second station working. For nearly a half-hour, the station arm was motionless, with Bowen stuck gripping a big, broken pump that needed to be moved.

He dared not let go.

Mission Control asked if he was comfortable.

"I'm fine as long as it's not too much longer." Bowen radioed.

"How much longer?"

Things were back to normal a few minutes later, and Bowen and Drew secured the pump. Computerworld reports that the robotic work station was installed in the space station last February.

When he stepped into outer space today, Drew became the 200th person to conduct a spacewalk, according to NASA.

As today's spacewalk ends, the astronauts are scheduled to conduct a more lighthearted experiment, to create what you might call a real "vacuum bottle."

Here's part of Nell Greenfieldboyce's report:

It's an activity for Japan's space agency called "Message in a Bottle." NASA says this involves opening a metal cylinder to get a sample of the vacuum of space. This bottle will be sealed up, then brought back to Earth and displayed to the public.

You can follow the Discovery mission on NASA's site.

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