UK & World News

  • 23 April 2014, 17:58

Astronauts Laugh And Joke After Swift Repair Job

Two astronauts had time for a laugh and a joke after they completed essential repairs at the International Space Station (ISS) quicker than expected.

American astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson spent around an hour on the spacewalk to remove and replace a computer, known as a multiplexer/demultiplexer (MDM).

The 10-year-old MDM, one of 45 on board the ISS, broke down after a routine restart operation last month.

"Excellent work, gentlemen," Mission Control radioed.

With their mission accomplished in plenty of time, the pair exchanged jokes and laughs as they got ready to go inside.

"My arms are too short for a selfie," Mr Mastracchio said while pointing his camera at himself.

Engineers do not know why the critical backup failed.

Along with the primary computer, it controls the movement of the robot-arm rail cart, as well as the pointing of the solar wings and radiators.

Nasa feared that if the primary computer went down the entire space station would be in jeopardy.

The spacewalk, which was streamed live by the US space agency, is the 179th from the orbiting laboratory.

Just before the walk, a Russian cargo capsule Progress 53 undocked from the ISS for a two-day test of a new system which enables it to reattach itself automatically.

The unmanned spacecraft will travel around 311 miles (500km) away from the ISS.

"It will return back to the Zvezda docking port Friday morning after Russian flight controllers have tested its new Kurs automated rendezvous system," Nasa said.

A similar operation was carried out in 2012 when another Progress cargo freighter pulled away from the station and redocked.