Spacewalk cut short by spacesuit air problem

Wed Jul 22, 2009 5:10pm EDT
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By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - NASA cut short a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Wednesday after carbon dioxide began building up in one astronaut's spacesuit, officials said.

The outing, by shuttle Endeavour's lead spacewalker David Wolf and rookie astronaut Chris Cassidy, was called off shortly before 4 p.m. (2000 GMT) as the astronauts were replacing batteries in the station's solar power system.

Two of four batteries were installed when Mission Control told the crew to head back to the airlock. They had been spacewalking for about six hours when Cassidy's suit began having problems.

Sensors showed a build up of carbon dioxide. The gas, a byproduct of breathing, typically is chemically removed by a canister of lithium hydroxide.

"It seems like the canister itself is experiencing some problems," astronaut Aki Hoshide radioed to the Endeavour crew from Mission Control in Houston.

"It's not an imminent failure," Hoshide added. "We just wanted to make sure that you guys are back in the airlock."

The spacewalk was the third of five planned during shuttle Endeavour's ongoing mission at the space station.


<p>Astronaut Chris Cassidy is seen in this view from the helmet camera of fellow spacewalker Dave Wolf as the pair work outside the International Space Station in this image from NASA TV July 22, 2009. REUTERS/NASA TV</p>