Spacewalking astronaut gets something in eye

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CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA. (AP) - A spacewalking astronaut almost had to retreat into the safety of the International Space Station on Wednesday when something got into his eye and made it sting “like crazy.”

Several minutes after he reported the discomfort, Andrew Feustel assured everyone his eye was feeling better and the third spacewalk of shuttle Endeavour’s final voyage continued as planned.

The incident came as the spacewalk hit the five-hour mark. Feustel and Mike Fincke had just finished running power cables from the U.S. side of the orbiting house to the Russian half.

Feustel spoke quietly and calmly as he alerted his crewmates about the problem with his eye.

“Just as an FYI, my right eye is stinging like crazy right now. It’s watering a lot. Must have gotten something” in it, Feustel called out.

“Sorry buddy,” Fincke said.

“Oh boy,” Feustel moaned.

Feustel was assured that he and Fincke were “close to home” _ near the hatch leading into the space station _ and was asked again how he felt. He managed to rub his eye against a strap in his helmet and said that helped.

“Almost got the better of me,” Feustel said. “Ah, my eye feels much, much better.”

The spacewalkers noted that the problem with tears in space is that “they don’t fall off of your eye … they kind of stay there.”

Until Feustel’s eye irritation, everything had been unfolding uneventfully 220 miles up, a relief for the spacewalkers who struggled with loose bolts during Sunday’s excursion. And during the first spacewalk late last week, a spacesuit malfunction forced an early end to the work.

Early in Wednesday’s spacewalk, when told they were running ahead of schedule, Fincke replied, “I want to enjoy it while it lasts.”

“Knock on wood somewhere and don’t talk about it again,” Feustel added.

The spacewalk came to a routine end after seven hours. Mission Control urged Feustel and Fincke to go back in, even though they were willing to tackle more chores. “It’s been a great day, a great (spacewalk), and we’d like you to finish up on a great note,” Mission Control said.

Feustel and Fincke turned cable installers to carry out their job. The new power lines they installed ultimately tap into the space station’s huge U.S. solar wings and provide a power backup to the Russian systems.

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