Illinois Grad Makes Rare Christmas Eve Spacewalk

URBANA, Ill. (AP) -- A University of Illinois graduate has completed a rare Christmas Eve spacewalk to repair the International Space Station's cooling system.

Michael Hopkins is a 1991 engineering graduate and former co-captain of the school's football team.

He and fellow astronaut Rick Mastracchio made the repairs on Tuesday.

NASA ordered up the spacewalks to revive a critical cooling loop at the International Space Station. All nonessential equipment had to be turned off when the line conked out Dec. 11, and many science experiments halted.

Mastracchio and Hopkins removed a faulty ammonia pump during Saturday's spacewalk. On Tuesday, they installed a new pump 260 miles above earth.

Hopkins has been on the space station for about seven months.
After the repairs were completed, Mission Control said it was "the best Christmas ever."

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