Dec. 17, 2013— -- After working for days without success to fix a cooling system problem that crippled the International Space Station, NASA announced today that a decision has been made to proceed with spacewalks in an effort to fix the problem externally.
Teams, including legendary “Tiger Teams” that are tasked with fixing the most complex problems for the agency, have been working since last week to isolate a problem with a cooling loop that forced the temporary shuttering of three modules aboard the space station.
Astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins have been checking spacesuits, running through tool checks and procedure reviews in preparation of at least one and as many as three spacewalks that are scheduled to begin Saturday at 5:15 a.m. ET., NASA told ABC News.
The first spacewalk is expected to run for roughly six hours. A second spacewalk is planned for Monday, and if necessary, a third spacewalk would be carried out Christmas Day.
Though NASA has described the situation aboard the space station as urgent, they do not consider it an emergency to date and said the six-person crew is not currently in any danger.
With the decision to proceed with spacewalks, NASA has delayed the launch of an Antares rocket with Cygnus, an unmanned re-supply spacecraft that was scheduled for launch Thursday at 9:19 p.m. ET at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The rocket and payload were rolled into place this morning, but the launch has been moved to January.
NASA has scheduled a briefing on the forthcoming spacewalks for 2 p.m. ET Wednesday to discuss their next steps.