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Broken Tools, Other Mishaps Wrench Mir Spacewalk

Wed., March 4, 1998

In an embarrassing failure that capped a tense day, two Mir cosmonauts canceled a spacewalk Tuesday because they ran out of wrenches and into several minor problems aboard the aging space station.

The Russians, Nikolai Budarin and Talgat Musabayev, were unable to open the hatch leading to outer space after breaking all three of their wrenches.

Officials said the spacewalk probably would be rescheduled for April, adding that more of the simple metal tools could be sent up to Mir on the next cargo ship, scheduled for March 15.

“One of the locks was closed so tightly that … Budarin, a physically strong man, broke three spanners (wrenches) and still failed to open the last of 10 locks,” Mission Control chief Vladimir Solovyov said.

The cosmonauts also reported other minor troubles, said Solovyov’s deputy Viktor Blagov. He did not elaborate.

“Many things happened on the station, aside from the unyielding hatch, and there is much we don’t understand yet,” Blagov told the ITAR-Tass news agency.

The cosmonauts, who intended to fix a solar panel damaged in a collision last summer, were told to relax for the rest of the day.

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