Spacemen chill out

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The Independent Online
Cape Canaveral (Reuter) -Michael Foale (pictured above), who yesterday became the first British-born astronaut to walk in space, found the experience too cold for comfort. Dr Foale and Bernard Harris, the first black American to perform the feat, were testing a better insulated spacesuit and gloves, but Dr Foale quickly complained of the chill, saying: "I can't do work with my hands like this."

"Looks like we put you in the deep-freeze today," said the shuttle pilot Eileen Collins, who choreographed the spacewalk.

"It was like putting my fingers in that liquid nitrogen freezer we have [at Nasa]," said Dr Foale, who is now a US citizen.

The temperatures also affected the electronic displays on the wrists of their spacesuits. "Our check-lists have gone blank in the cold and they don't respond," Mr Harris said. The spacewalk was curtailed early after less than three hours.

The men began their spacewalk with a ride on the 15-metre shuttle robot arm manipulated from inside the shuttle. They were then placed in Discovery's shadow, the coldest spot, where they clung to each other, motionless, in temperatures as low as -87C (-125F). The experiment left time for enjoying the view, which Mr Harris described as "just gorgeous".

Discovery and its six-member crew are scheduled to return to Earth tomorrow.

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