Engineering in Space

ISS space walks inaugurate a new era of station repair

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On Monday morning, at about 11:20 GMT, astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Douglas Wheelock switched their space suits to battery power and floated out of the International Space Station. This was the last of three space walks NASA had scheduled over the past two weeks to replace a broken cooling pump. It was also the start of a new approach to repairing and maintaining the ISS. Host Steven Cherry talks with retired NASA engineer and IEEE Spectrum contributor James Oberg about the strange beauty of an unexpected ammonia leak, the adhesive properties of Tabasco sauce, and why the future of space travel depends on astronauts with a gift for engineering improvisation.