Risky spacewalk quickly aborted

Posted: Friday, June 25, 2004

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. The two men aboard the international space station embarked on an unusually risky spacewalk Thursday, but had barely floated outside when Mission Control ordered them back in because of dropping pressure in one of their oxygen tanks.

Mission Control stressed that the two were in no danger.

Astronaut Michael Fincke and cosmonaut Gennady Padalka popped open the hatch right on time, and Fincke had just floated out when the frightening words came from Mission Control: ''You need to return. Something is not right.''

Mission Control informed the men that the pressure in Fincke's prime oxygen bottle was falling, and that they needed to get back inside and close the hatch. They were informed they might need to switch to the backup oxygen tank.

They sealed the hatch 14 minutes after opening it.

It was not immediately clear whether the spacewalk would proceed. Fincke and Padalka were using an improvised combination of U.S. and Russian gear on a mission to replace a fried circuit breaker.

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