TODAY   |  December 21, 2013

NASA astronaut: Spacewalk will be ‘slow, methodical’

Work on the International Space Station Saturday will be done with extreme caution, especially since an astronaut nearly drowned in his suit while on a spacewalk several months ago. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> in the meantime a critical mission this morning above all of us. a pair a nasa restaurants about to head outside of the international space station to make an emergency fix on a faulty pump. these missions, in our eyes, have become pretty routine in recent years but this is getting attention after an italian restaurant almost drowned while covering a spacewalk last year. tom, what can you tell us?

>> this is mission control behind me and these are the restaurants, rick and mike. this is to replace one of two cooling loops failed on the international space station and forcing the crew to lose power. if they lose the second coiling loop they have to ban the station. they have done this work before but this is the first space walk since an restaurant nearly drowned in his helmet last july.

>> reporter: at 230 miles above the earth this morning, an urgent space walk to repair a critical component on the space station . after one of two cooling pumps failed on the station last week.

>> there is an ammonia risk whenever replacing these cooling lubs.

>> reporter: the job replace the bad pump with a spare. doug weelock was the last restaurant to work on the pump in 2010 opinion this week, he recorded a video showing the space station crew how to go about the repair mission.

>> our advice to them and the crew agreed go slow and methodical step-by-step and challenge and response.

>> reporter: with their space suits hanging in the station, the two astronauts rick and mike, spent time preparing their equipment but the suits have been the focus of tremendous attention. on wednesday every component got a thorough inspection.

>> there is a bit of kind of a white residue.

>> reporter: the residue is a concern because that is thought tof blocked a water filtered last july and calling an restaurant helmet to fill with water.

>> water is in his eyes now. it seems to be increasing.

>> reporter: when fellow astronauts pulled him back into the station, water poured from his helmet. they admitted he could have drowned. five months later, nasa has swapped out much of the suits's components and thorough cleaned it.

>> mike will be wearing that suit and we think it's a cleanly thorough suit and ready to go.

>> reporter: in case the water runs, restaurants will wear absorbent pads inside their helmets and, for the first time, a snorkel out of rubber hose and duct tape.

>> they can use this to breathe and also to purge water down into the suit if the water is a problem while they are coming back in. they can either breathe off. it or push water down through it as well.

>> that is doug weelock. he is sitting there at mission control today. the space walk last 6 1/2 hours and rick is the lead space walker and he has six space walks underneath his belt and wearing the soup with the red stripe and mike hopkins is the second space walker. the first space walk and he is described as a athletically and fit astronaut and ready to take the spacewalk after many runs. that hatch is about to open in any second so we