Christmas Eve spacewalk: NASA astronauts perform Space Station repairs


Upside down like that and with their heads stuck into things they look exactly like Budgerigars.

It’s simultaneously funny and painful to watch a PhD try to perform a simple task like uncoupling a quick disconnect fitting. I watched that operation and by the end I was laughing and screaming at the television. Yes, the environment is harsh and unforgiving and yes, they are brave and intrepid to go out into it to make repairs but sometimes I think a professional mechanic might make more sense trying to make repairs in orbit than all the degreed scientists on Earth. It was clear from the start of work on the Q-3 that the line was still under pressure and when the tool was installed to push the coupling down, it also pulled it forward and put it under a strain. They’re really lucky they didn’t screw it up totally. If there’s no way to bleed the pressure off, then next time, grab the hose a few inches above the fitting while the tool is compressed and push it inboard while pushing the release button. It’ll will pop right off. I have nothing but respect for the NASA astronauts and some of the repair missions have been epic but sometimes I think somebody with more experience in repairing mechanical things would be a huge asset in space.

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The apollo programme is a far better example of people doing good mechanical work in space. There is a lot of good stuff in the ALSJ about astronauts comparing work they did on the moon to their experiences on Earth.

I’d take that sort of Christmas Eve over dinner with the in-laws anytime.

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