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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Discovery Spacewalker May Be Replaced

HOUSTON — NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, one of two spacewalkers assigned to the shuttle Discovery’s already delayed assembly mission to the International Space Station, suffered a hip injury during a Jan. 15 bicycle accident and may be replaced, according to the space agency.
“That possibility is still being evaluated,” NASA says.
Discovery’s 11-day assembly mission was rescheduled last week for a Feb. 24 liftoff. The mission has been on hold since a Nov. 5 launch scrub while shuttle managers troubleshoot small cracks in the stringer region of Discovery’s external fuel tank.
Kopra, 47, “will be OK,” the space agency says. But NASA did not provide other details of his injuries, citing the flier’s medical privacy.
Kopra has trained with astronaut Alvin Drew for a pair of spacewalks outside the station on what is to be Discovery’s final mission. Kopra also is to serve as Discovery’s flight engineer during launch and re-entry.
Kopra and Drew are to clean up the work site on the long solar power truss, where station astronauts replaced a faulty cooling system pump in August, and perform other chores.
Last week, NASA identified the root cause for the fuel tank cracks. Modifications are underway (Aerospace DAILY, Jan. 12).
Kopra spent two months aboard the station in 2009 and conducted a 5-hr. spacewalk.

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