May 20, 2011

Suit Sensor Glitch Shortens Spacewalk

A faulty CO2 sensor has cut short the first spacewalk of the shuttle Endeavour astronauts, Fox News reports. Mission controllers noticed that Gregory Chamitoff's spacesuit sensor wasn't working and, erring on the side of safety, NASA had the astronauts return to the station until the issue could be assessed.

Feustel and Chamitoff spent early Friday on routine chores outside the ISS, installing a light fixture here, covering something there, picking some stuff up. Chamitoff and spacewalking partner Drew Feustel were about to start installing an antenna on the space station, but controllers figured that would take too much time. Instead, the two completed clean-up tasks.

This is the first spacewalk for Chamitoff. He called it "a dream come true for me."

Yesterday, the Endeavour astronauts installed a $2 billion physics experiment that looks for antimatter and dark matter. On Saturday, the two crews will get an unprecedented VIP call from Pope Benedict XVI making the first papal call to space. Two Italian astronauts are on board.

A total of four spacewalks are planned during the 16-day mission, before Endeavour is scheduled to land on June 1, AP reports.

NASA plans to end shuttle flights this summer after the shuttle Atlantis launches to carry up one last load of supplies and equipment to the ISS.


Image Caption: Mission Specialist Drew Feustel is seen in this view from the helmet camera of Mission Specialist Greg Chamitoff as they conduct the first spacewalk of the STS-134 mission. Photo credit: NASA TV


On the Net: