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Space station’s new room gets power

Astronauts Nicholas Patrick and Robert Behnken worked on hooking up plumbing to the Tranquility room yesterday. Astronauts Nicholas Patrick and Robert Behnken worked on hooking up plumbing to the Tranquility room yesterday. (AFP/ Getty Images)
Associated Press / February 15, 2010

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The international space station’s newest room came alive with power yesterday after astronauts managed to hook up plumbing during a spacewalk despite an ammonia leak.

Even though Nicholas Patrick’s suit got hit with ammonia, none of the frozen toxic drops stuck to him. The mishap forced a slightly early end to the spacewalk, however, so that the astronauts could go through safety procedures.

It was the second excursion in three days for Patrick and Robert Behnken. They have one more spacewalk to complete work on the Tranquility room and its attached observation deck, the last major building blocks of the 11-year-old space station. Shuttle Endeavour carried up the pieces last week.

With the throw of a few switches, Behnken and Patrick got ammonia coolant flowing through the newly routed Tranquility hoses. That, in turn, got Tranquility surging with power; most of its systems could not be turned on without a way to get rid of the heat generated by the equipment inside.