NASA

Waterbury native and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is now 5th on the list of mankind’s long duration spacewalkers, with a total of 53 hours of cumulative extra-vehicular activity (EVAs) since his first mission in 2000.

Mastracchio’s latest task was to replace a faulty backup computer that resides outside the space station.

This current mission underscored the necessity of American space launch capabilities, as a needed component for the repair work was on earth when the back up computer broke down. NASA managers were able to quickly manifest the needed component, a thin piece of thermal material called CryoTherm, to a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft in Florida ahead of its April 18 launch. The material was quickly unloaded from the Dragon after it berthed to the station and Mastracchio and fellow NASA astronaut Steve Swanson installed it outside.

Watch CTTechjunkie’s interview with Mastracchio shortly before his latest mission:

This is the second unexpected maintenance task Mastracchio had to perform since arriving to the station in November. The previous repair job was a multi-spacewalk repair in late December of an ammonia pump used for the station’s cooling system.

Mastracchio is a 1978 graduate of Crosby High School in Waterbury. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Connecticut in 1982. He is slated to return to Earth aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule next month.

Jay Patterson contributed to this report