NASA postpones spacewalk after floating ‘object’ spotted

Enlarge Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

NASA has postponed a planned spacewalk by two American astronauts to the International Space Station because of a suspect floating debris. The spacewalk planned for Saturday morning has been pushed back by more than a day to Sunday, and officials will review safety measures before scheduling another.

NASA mission specialist Peggy Whitson was to install a new ammonia pump in the station’s cooling system, while flight engineer Jack Fischer was to turn on the new pump’s power and maintain it for a few months before returning to Earth. But officials decided on Tuesday that a nearby “ballistic object” that had been spotted on a UHF radio scanner had a 30% chance of damaging the spacecraft.

The mission to the space station is Whitson’s record-setting eighth. She has broken at least one key record at each new orbital outing. She is now the oldest woman in space at age 57. Fischer is an Air Force colonel from Colorado.

Whitson is still expected to be up and running by the time the spacewalk starts at 6:09 am ET (1129 GMT). She and Fischer were due to operate the station for about six hours.

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