"Ginormous fondue pot, bubbling over with piping hot awesomesauce", said American astronaut Jack Fischer as he embarked on his first-ever spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Friday.
The spacewalk officially began at 9:08 a.m. EDT (1308 GMT), one hour after the planned start time, and the duo went straight into the main task: to install a 200-lb.
It was Fischer's first spacewalk, and the ninth for Whitson, who last month broke the record for cumulative time in orbit by a United States astronaut.
"Oh my gosh, this is attractive!" The 200 mark includes assembly and maintenance by Russian spacewalkers as well as United States.
"No 'awesome sauce?'" Whitson teased. Fischer replied with his usual enthusiasm.
Whitson, designated EV-1, will wear a spacesuit with red stripes, and carries a helmetcam designated No. 18.
Mission Control stressed throughout the day that Fischer's suit was fine and that the leak was confined to the umbilical hose. But that meant each astronaut, in turn, had to rely on suit battery power when the umbilical was not attached. The two were able to complete the task of removing a faulty electricity and data box that aides experiments on the exterior of ISS.
The highest-priority tasks for the spacewalk, which had been slated to last 6 ½ hours, are to replace a 200-pound electronics box that routes commands and data to experiments, and to install equipment to troubleshoot a cooling system problem with the station's $2 billion USA dark matter detector. Whitson has performed more spacewalks than any other woman.
At the Kennedy Space Center, meanwhile, SpaceX is continuing preparations to launch an Inmarsat communications satellite Monday from historic pad 39A.
It was discovered as the astronauts were seated in the airlock inside the space station, before they ventured into the vacuum of space. The Dragon supply ship is scheduled to arrive June 4.
Whitson and Fischer proved them wrong. She's also spent more time in space than any other American, 552 days over three missions and counting.