Astronauts Repair Space Station on Christmas Eve Spacewalk

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-12_26cc561d96.jpgCredit: NASA TV (HOUSTON) -- After weeks of attempting to fix the malfunctioning system from inside the International Space Station, NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio successfully replaced the 780-pound cooling pump Tuesday after two spacewalks, NASA officials said. When astronaut Doug Wheelock in Mission Control congratulated Hopkins and Mastracchio with the words, “best Christmas gift ever,” Hopkins responded: “It took us a couple of weeks to get it done but we did it.”

This was the 177th spacewalk on the ISS since it started operating 15 years ago, the second for Hopkins and the eighth for Mastracchio. It was also only the second Christmas Eve spacewalk since a space shuttle mission to fix the Hubble space telescope 14 years ago.

The entire crew has Christmas Day off to celebrate and recover from two weeks of brainstorming and preps for two dramatic spacewalks. A Saturday spacewalk brought them halfway to the goal of repairing the pump, and they finished the task Tuesday.

Next up for the ISS -- a Russian spacewalk on Friday. Cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy are scheduled to install two Canadian Earth observation cameras. That spacewalk begins at 8 a.m. ET.

And on Jan. 7 the postponed Orbital-1 Cygnus Resupply Mission to the ISS is scheduled to take off at 1:55 p.m. ET.

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