Equipment water leak shortens spacewalk by 2 US astronauts

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NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is seen during a spacewalk during Expedition 50 aboard the International Space Station.

The spacewalk officially began at 9:08 a.m. EDT (1308 GMT), one hour after the planned start time, and the duo went straight into the main task: to install a 200-lb.

"Outstanding, Peggy", came the voice from Houston's Mission Control.

It was a milestone moment, nonetheless: the 200th spacewalk in the construction and maintenance of the orbiting outpost. The spacewalk is expected to last around 6,5 hours. They replaced an avionics box that supplies data and electricity to the ongoing and critically important science experiments.

Astronauts sped through the landmark 200th spacewalk at the International Space Station, after a glitch in preparations left them looking at a shortened trip outside.

With a full-duration 6.5-hour spacewalk, Whitson would have moved up to third in the world with almost 60 hours of EVA time over nine excursions, trailing only cosmonaut Anatoli Solovyev, with 78 hours and 21 minutes of spacewalk time over 16 EVAs, and retired astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, with 67 hours and 40 minutes over 10 excursions.

"This is awesome, to be able to do the 200th EVA [extra-vehicular activity] on board the space station", Whitson said as the spacewalk came to an end.

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The Friday spacewalk marks Fischer's first walk in space, and he is. enthusiastic.

It's the ninth spacewalk for Whitson, who already holds the American record for most spacewalks by a female astronaut, and the first for Fischer.

The EVA started over the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii and lasted 23 minutes, ending over the Gulf of Mexico.

NASA has experienced a series of problems with water leaking inside the astronauts' helmets, most notably in 2013 when water began filling Italian Luca Parmitano's headpiece, forcing him to cut short his spacewalk and make an emergency re-entry into the space lab.

"Oh my gosh, this is attractive", Fischer said as he stepped out into space for the first time, saying his view is like "an enormous fondu pot bubbling over with piping hot awesome-sauce".

NASA's bulky white spacesuits are aging, and the same models have been in use for four decades.