NASA Orders Urgent Spacewalks04:24
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Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins are preparing for a series of spacewalks to remove a failed pump module and install a spare pump module. (NASA)
Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins are preparing for a series of spacewalks to remove a failed pump module and install a spare pump module. (NASA)

NASA has ordered a number of spacewalks to fix a broken cooling system on the International Space Station. The spacewalks are expected to start this weekend and could stretch into Christmas.

One of the station's two cooling pumps shut down last week, forcing the crew to turn off some non-essential equipment.

NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson joins Here & Now's Robin Young to discuss the spacewalks.

Interview Highlights

On new protection measures for spacewalks

"We have tested this snorkel in our neutral buoyancy lab with other astronauts in the suit performing many, many tasks. And it has passed the comfort level test for everybody that's tried it. So though nobody wants to see water enter the helmet, and we put in steps to help prevent that, if it should happen again we feel that the snorkel is one of our lines of defense. The other is the Helmet Absorbency Pad, or the 'HAP,' as it's been named."

What it's like to do a spacewalk

"You are very focused. ... So much of your energy and brain cells are focused on the task that you've got to do outside, and making sure that you are in sync with everybody on the ground that's going to be helping you, plus your crew members inside that are going to be supporting you."

Guest

This segment aired on December 19, 2013.

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