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Labor Day in Space: Astronauts Prepare for Extra Spacewalk

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Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshides stands a the tip of the International Space Station's robotic arm during an Aug. 30, 2012, spacewalk outside the orbiting lab with crewmate Sunita Williams of NASA. (NASA TV)

It's almost Labor Day in the United States and while many Americans across the country will enjoy a three-day holiday weekend, astronauts in space are gearing up for a potential extra spacewalk next week.

Astronauts living on the International Space Station will likely spend Labor Day weekend preparing their spacesuits and tools for a possible spacewalk to finish a repair job that was cut short by a jammed bolt on Thursday (Aug. 30).

NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and Japanese spaceflyer Akihiko Hoshide spent more than eight hours spacewalking outside the space station on Thursday to perform repairs. But, a single sticky space station bolt prevented them from replacing a faulty piece of power system hardware. NASA engineers are now discussing plans for an extra spacewalk to finish the job, an excursion that could occur early next week.

Williams and Hoshide will not perform the spacewalk on the Labor Day holiday on Monday (Sept. 3), but they may have to get their spacesuits ready and discuss plans for the orbital repair work with flight controllers and engineers on Earth, NASA spokesperson Kelly Humphries told SPACE.com.

During Thursday's spacewalk, Hoshide's spacesuit experienced higher-than-normal temperatures near the end of the excursion. So, he will spend the weekend re-sizing Williams' spacesuit in order to wear it on the next spacewalk. Williams, meanwhile, will assemble a backup spacesuit for her own use while engineers discuss the glitch with Hoshide's original suit.

The International Space Station is currently home to six people making up the orbiting laboratory's Expedition 32 crew. The crew includes two Americans (Williams and NASA astronaut Joe Acaba), one Japanese astronaut (Hoshide) representing the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka (the commander), Yuri Malenchenko and Sergei Revin.