Waterbury native Rick Mastracchio is scheduled to make the first of three space walks on Saturday. He'll replace a pump module on the International Space Station, which broke last week forcing the shutdown of several science experiments and other non-critical systems.
This will be Mastracchio's seventh EVA. NASA officials say they anticipate the first space walk, on Saturday, will last about six-and-a-half hours. The broken pump he will repair is linked to one of the station's two external cooling loops, which circulate ammonia outside of the space station to regulate equipment temperatures.
On Tuesday, Mastracchio referenced the space walk on his Twitter feed:
String of atolls in the Pacific Ocean. The next week will be busy with space walks so not much tweeting from here. pic.twitter.com/wmseGNIool
— Rick Mastracchio (@AstroRM) December 17, 2013
Earlier this week, Mastracchio spoke to reporters while orbiting aboard the ISS. "Anytime you have something like this, it's good news bad news," Mastracchio said. "The bad news is the station is having problems and we have to go out and do a repair. The good news is we have the spare parts we have the training. We have the skills. And, of course, going out and doing a space walk is always very exciting, yet very challenging."
Mastracchio is a graduate of Crosby High School in Waterbury and he studied electrical engineering and computer science at UConn. NASA says the repairs could extend through Christmas day. If so, Mastracchio's work would come on the fortieth anniversary of NASA's last Christmas day space walk, which was during Skylab in 1973.