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NASA spacewalk to fix ISS rail car
By AFP -
A pair of NASA astronauts will step out on a previously unscheduled spacewalk as early as Monday to fix a piece of motorized equipment that stalled outside the International Space Station.
The mobile transporter rail car -- used to position the station's robotic arm -- stalled on Wednesday just four inches (10 centimeters) from where it began its move, said the US space agency in a statement.
This NASA TV image shows Astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren as they translate along the port truss structure back to the Quest airlock after completing cooling system servicing work on November 6, 2015. AFP
NASA released footage on December 9 described as showing an American cargo vessel arriving at the International Space Station (ISS). The Orbital ATK Cygnus vessel carried over three tons of supplies for the astronauts on board the ISS, according to NASA. The mission was the first carried out using the Atlas V launch system, NASA said. Credit: YouTube/NASA 
A handout picture made available by NASA on 06 December 2015 of a photograph taken by one of the Expedition 45 crew members aboard the International Space Station (ISS) showing the robotic arm Canadarm2, visible over Earth, in space, 27 November 2015. ISS commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren will operate the Canadarm2 from inside the station's cupola, using it for the rendezvous and grapple of Orbital ATK's Cygnus commercial cargo craft when it arrives at the station. Cygnus will be berthed to the Unity module. The cargo includes numerous experiments across an array of specialties along with some student-devised projects, as well as crew supplies including food, water and clothing. Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo mission was scheduled to launch on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket on 03 December from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, but strong winds forced the planned launch to be scrubbed for days. The ATK's Cygnus cargo mission is currently expected to launch on 06 December. EFE/EPA/NASA 
Orbital Cygnus spacecraft successfully launches to resupply International Space Station 
Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft, seen atop an Atlas V rocket on December 2, 2015 at Cape Canaveral, was launched successfully December 6 on a mission to the International Space Station. AFP/Aubrey Gemignani
Three new crew members arrived Tuesday afternoon, December 15, at the International Space Station as Commander Yuri Malenchenko manually docked Soyuz after an automated docking attempt was aborted. Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of the European Space Agency were with Malenchenko as the craft docked.Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA and Flight Engineers Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) are already on board the station. Credit: YouTube/NASA 
The Cygnus spacecraft began its supply mission to the International Space Station after a successful launch from Cape Canaveral on Sunday, December 6. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasted the cargo spacecraft, with its 3.8 tons of supplies and experiments, into orbit after the launch was delayed by three days because of weather conditions. Credit: YouTube/NASA 
Look closely and you will spot a little bit of tinsel decorating the International Space Station in the crew’s latest video sending Christmas greetings to Earth. Signing off their holiday message, Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly along with astronauts Timothy Kopra and new arrival Tim Peake show off their synchronised somersaults. Credit: YouTube/NASA 
A U.S. shipment of much-needed groceries and other astronaut supplies rocketed toward the International Space Station for the first time in months Sunday, reigniting NASA's commercial delivery service. 
British astronaut Tim Peake pictured in space suit is at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, prior to blasting off to the International Space Station (ISS) on December 15, 2015. AFP/Kirill Kudryavtsev
The Canadian-made robotic arm is used to reach out and grab approaching US cargo ships and was most recently used for the arrival of Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft on December 9.
Efforts to correct the problem robotically from mission control in Houston failed.
Astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra will float outside the orbiting lab to move the rail car "so it can be latched in place ahead of the Wednesday, December 23 docking of a Russian cargo resupply spacecraft," NASA said.
The Progress spacecraft docks automatically so it doesn't need the robotic arm, but a NASA spokeswoman said it is important for the mobile transporter to be latched in place prior to Progress' arrival.
"It's currently not latched since it stalled while they were trying to move it," she told AFP.
The cause of the stall remains unclear, but "experts believe it may be related to a stuck brake handle," according to ISS mission integration and operations manager Kenny Todd.
A time for the spacewalk has not been announced, but NASA said it will happen no earlier than Monday, or perhaps Tuesday.
A final decision will be made after a mission management meeting on Sunday.