Space station managers have halted US spacewalks until they can test the strength of the handrails that line the US portion of the station. The handrails are used to anchor the spacewalkers.
Managers said yesterday they have discovered an odd bubbling on the interior of some of the handrails on the ground, so they have ordered testing of the handrails' strength and composition to ensure there aren't any structural concerns.
The deputy station program manager says station doesn't anticipate that any of the dozens of handrails that line the US segment of the space station will have to be replaced.
The news comes as Russian spacewalks also have been put on hold because four canisters needed to rid carbon dioxide from the air spacewalkers breathe can't be located on the station.
A supply vehicle is scheduled to arrive next month with new canisters, which will allow Russian spacewalks.
Americans say they expect to have the handrail issue resolved well in advance of the next scheduled spacewalk after space shuttle Discovery's planned July launch.