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Punctured astronaut's spacesuit cuts short spacewalk

File image of a recent EVA during STS-118 visit to ISS
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Aug 15, 2007
Two astronauts floating outside the International Space Station were forced to cut short their spacewalk Wednesday after one of them found a hole in his spacesuit's left glove.

NASA flight controllers ordered the astronauts back into the orbiting laboratory after the damage was discovered when US astronaut Rick Mastracchio used his helmet camera to conduct a routine scan of his gloves.

Mastracchio, one of seven astronauts who arrived at the station last week aboard the shuttle Endeavour, was not in danger, as the hole had only gone through two of the glove's five outer layers.

"Even though there was no threat to his safety, the decision was made as a precaution," NASA said on its website.

The hole was found more than four hours into the spacewalk, which was to last about six hours. Mastracchio finished his spacewalk at 1900 GMT, while his colleague, Clay Anderson, quickly wrapped up his tasks and joined him back into the station about an hour later.

The spacewalk's early end did not affect the mission as the pair was about an hour ahead of schedule and had completed the major tasks when the hole was found, NASA said.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had found damage to spacesuit gloves after the space shuttle Discovery returned from a mission to the ISS in December.

Since then, NASA has made astronauts check their gloves every 30 minutes during spacewalks.

During their spacewalk, Anderson and Mastracchio completed work aimed at preparing the relocation of a station solar panel that will take place in the next shuttle mission in October.

Meanwhile, NASA was expected to announced later Wednesday whether it would need to send an astronaut out on a spacewalk to patch up a gouge in shuttle Endeavour's heat shield.

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Astronauts conduct spacewalk as NASA analyzes shuttle damage
Washington (AFP) Aug 11, 2007
US astronauts prepared early Saturday for the first spacewalk of the shuttle Endeavour mission following discovery of damage in the spacecraft's protective shield.

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