Urgent Spacewalk at the International Space Station

Astronauts go outside to fix the system's failed backup computer system, which helps control the cooling system.
9:06 | 04/23/14

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Transcript for Urgent Spacewalk at the International Space Station
This is a special room. Hello I'm Michelle you know and -- a new York at two and a half hour long spacewalk. Is just getting under way this morning outside the International Space Station. Astronauts charged fixed the stations -- back up computer system which among other things helps control -- external cooling system. Now we've got the astronauts out their written a stocky it was hitless ninth -- And astronaut Swanson is making his fifth joining us now from the Johnson Space Center in Houston the first woman to command the International Space Station. And a veteran of nearly forty hours -- one unit itself astronaut Peggy -- -- again. For joining us. This has been described as a mostly routine mission for the astronauts today but that doesn't mean this work. Doesn't come without dangers what are the basic concerns. Well obviously after we had this spacewalk last summer where we had issue with water in the helmet. We've done a lot of work we've. An analysis trying to understand what that problem was because those very unexpected and not one of the failures that we were looking back anticipating. But that's part of what we did do when -- live long duration and spaces find out how did you know what the problems aren't how to resolve these things. So we could read. Looked at those. It processes and issues and we're trying to resolve them in the future -- we still -- Are only doing its -- half hour spacewalk today because we want to do just the minimum necessary. To get this -- external and BM back up and running in its redundancy. Position. And -- computers on board the International Space Station are very complex and there and that tiered level. So that you know that the big ones the commanding control command some of these intermediate level computers and then they come and other computers below them. And this is one of those intermediate level computers and -- the -- for one of those sets it's really important for us because it controls several other important capabilities. External to the station like Brady rotating their radiators in the solar -- if we had to manually commandment. So that's why we're witness spacewalk is particularly important considered a critical -- -- -- give. Me an idea this space -- just started Kinney has an idea of what their first charges as they headed out there. There. First as they exit the airlock they're gonna attached to it themselves through the or -- that. -- -- Andrea we have so many accidents here I'm sorry -- use of orbital replacement unit and it's basically this -- that they're going to be putting into the trust. To replace the one that has failed. So they're taxing that some themselves here doing -- to safety checks to make sure they're all in a proper configuration. And then they're gonna translate. Two -- front. The forward face of the for us. Trust segment where this -- and it's it's actually relatively short translation. Relatively close to the airline. So they'll head up there and they -- -- only. Semi tricky part about this whole thing -- it has an insulation layer on the bottom side of the the computer that we're replacing. And they anticipate because it's been up there so long that it might have some breaking issues and we might need to -- that and clean that up before we installed a new ones so that might be the only. Tricky part. Hopefully as we go along on this PDA we've got three simple bolts to fund Bolton and -- backhand down. And we're looking at a astronauts risk their request documents Steve Swanson out there right now -- -- you haven't just walk the walk you were commander of the space station as well what the astronauts inside. Doing while their colleagues are working on the outside. Well -- -- -- -- -- is the first Japanese. Commander of the space station and he was the suit I'd be that prepared the -- to go out the door. And he'll do all the preparations are all -- posted PDA that tests an activity when a crew gets back again. So he is in charge of running neck deep -- and re pressurization procedures. They go to occurs inside as well as getting this crew in their states. We'll have a ground -- somebody that's going to be talking to Steve and Rick from the ground his name is. We're telling we have to Jeremy Hanson he is Canadian astronaut. And he is. Going to be directing these folks on the specifics of the spacewalk today and and -- a specific order of every test that will be occurring. So Peggy give me an ID. Yeah this is a critical sort of repair here but it wasn't necessarily emergency where you had to go out right away there's been some preparation time how long. -- -- preparation period is there before doing a walk like this and how does this happen. -- for a normally -- it takes us about a full week. Maybe a little bit more depending on how many seat configurations have to be done. To prepare for that spacewalk. So it it's a pretty full week of activities. This crew also had to do some additional testing. On some of the Ian used to ensure that they were ready to go out the door and so they've had probably a week and a half a very full activities. Dedicated to the -- getting ready to go out and how have those absolutely been testing. They've been testing very well actually they had lead testing in that that they -- looking -- of water lake beach was way lower than me and -- expected and below the limits less than half the limits of what we. -- except sat on the ground so we were very pleased with the results of those tests. It gives us an idea you know this is two and a half maybe three hour space walk here what are some of the contingencies in place it's something. Word to not go. The right way. Well we have. You know whole team of folks on the ground that are monitoring the suits as well but -- crew members are the ones that would potentially notice if we had another incident like we had last summer. With that water in the suits and so that they we have a new. Absorption -- in the back of the helmet. That dead crew members of will be occasionally giving background checks to say that and it's called a -- Eight JP -- absorption pads. And they'll be. Testing it to make sure that it's dry with the backs of their heads during the EPA. Pack along with their glove check so you may hear through periodically throughout that deviate where they'll they'll say. Something about -- check and a -- check and that is in reference. To those things that the crew is actually personally monitoring. And again we. Are watching this space flight space -- Live astronaut Rick was struck PO in -- today -- colleague Steve Swanson. In the all white suit. -- give me an idea SpaceX the private company having now made its third delivery how NASA astronauts feel about the private sector. Being involved now in the space race. What we actually are very excited about the private companies you know they've. Successfully delivered cargo to the International Space Station. If we received appropriate funding we anticipate that bike when he seventeen. We'll have the first launched. Have a crew on board commercial provided. Vehicle that will take us a lower apartment which will be a great asset for us. At this stage in the game. -- obviously we're also working on the Orion spacecraft which will go further beyond low earth orbit. Credit it it's great to have the commercial sector picked up their -- for can't transporting crew to and from lower orbit to and from the International Space Station. I was wondering once when you were receiving supplies did you once try to deny resupply of of goods unless they had self onboard. The bag did I did -- Pacifica I just tell them I want an Atlanta -- unless they had. Quite a craving even up in -- -- Hang up their -- and Peggy -- thank you very much. Thank you at that NASA astronaut your club better and. And former ISS commander. This has been an ABC news digital special report you can keep up with the space -- -- abcnews.com. Live -- And in real time they download in the ABC news -- and star in this story for exclusive updates on the go for now I'm Michelle Franzen and New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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