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NASA plans 3 urgent spacewalks to fix ISS coolant system, suspends cargo delivery

Published time: December 17, 2013 23:48
Edited time: December 18, 2013 00:56
The International Space Station from Above (Credit: STS-130 Crew, NASA)

The International Space Station from Above (Credit: STS-130 Crew, NASA)

American astronauts will undertake a series of urgent spacewalks to repair a broken cooling line on the International Space Station.

NASA announced Tuesday that two American astronauts will move soon to replace a busted valve within an external pump module on one of the station’s two coolant loops that shut down last week when it reached pre-set temperature limits.

The replacement will be undertaken during three spacewalks by the International Space Station (ISS) crew. The first is set for Saturday, followed by another on Monday and next Wednesday, on Christmas Day.

The spacewalks have directed NASA’s attention away from a launch of a supply ship, which has been rescheduled for January. Orbital Sciences Corp.’s unmanned Cygnus cargo craft had been due for launch this week on Virginia’s coast.

The First Cygnus Commercial Cargo Spacecraft (Image from NASA)

NASA was forced last week to reroute coolant systems when one of the station’s coolant loops, Loop-A, automatically shut down due to a temperature fluctuation. The ISS crew proceeded to move certain electrical systems over to the second loop, NASA reported.

The two coolant loops circulate ammonia to keep internal and external equipment cool.

“At no time was the crew or the station itself in any danger,” NASA reported.

The space agency said that some non-critical systems were “powered down” as teams analyzed how the valve malfunctioned.

This is not the first time a coolant problem has hampered the ISS.

The ISS crew took an unscheduled spacewalk in May to inspect and fix a coolant leak in its power system. They installed a new cooling pump during a six-hour-long session.

That same coolant loop had a similar problem in November 2012, when an emergency spacewalk was needed to fix a leak.

Comments (2)


David R. Evans 18.12.2013 03:28

Billions cost is small change compared trillions spent on Israel, including current wars 4 Israel.


Robert Kempt 18.12.2013 01:20

All mechanical equipment will break from time to time. I do HVAC/R. Send me up. I need a challenge. 3 space walks with something to do. How cool is that and get paid for it. China made a landing on the moon. Nice planet earth is moving forward. Now string theory showing signs of truth (hologram) 10th dimension. I can't get enough. We are small in the big picture but starting to move faster towards joining the rest of the living universe.

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