Tags: space | station | leak | serious | danger | crew | nasa

Space Station Leak 'Serious' But No Danger to Crew, Says NASA

Image: Space Station Leak 'Serious' But No Danger to Crew, Says NASA

Thursday, 12 Dec 2013 07:49 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A "serious" leak aboard the International Space Station was reported on Wednesday due to a cooling system failure, but NASA said the problem poses no danger to the crew.

The incident occurred seven months to the day that space station crew members performed a spacewalk to repair the station's cooling system, Yahoo News noted.

In a press release, NASA stated that "the space station’s two external cooling loops automatically shut down when it reached pre-set temperature limits."

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The devices are responsible for keeping both internal and external equipment on the space station cool, which it accomplishes by circulating ammonia outside the station.

According to the space agency, astronauts are in the process of getting the cooling loop back up and running, however they suspect that the root of the problem might actually stem from a malfunctioning flow control valve located within the pump module itself.

NASA experts are said to be trouble shooting the malfunction from the ground to help the space station crew resolve the issue.

"At no time was the crew or the station itself in any danger, but the ground teams did work to move certain electrical systems over to the second loop," NASA's press release stated.

Despite NASA's assurance that the space stations crew was not at risk, Johnson Space Center spokesman Kelly Humphries told Fox News that "it could be a serious problem, but it's not an emergency."

"If it's a software problem, they could just do a software update or do a patch. If it's a hardware issue, that's something else," NASA spokesman Josh Byerly told Reuters. "We'll know more in the next day or so."

Due to the cooling system failure, astronauts aboard the space station had to prioritize life support systems according to Byerly, which meant shutting down non-critical systems within NASA's Harmony node, Japan's Kibo lab and Europe's Columbus lab.

There are three spare pumps located outside the station if engineers determine the valve cannot be repaired and managers authorize a spacewalk, Byerly added.

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Presently there are six astronauts living on the space station, which has been continuously occupied since 2000.

The $100 billion-plus International Space Station is currently occupied by two Americans, three Russians and a Japanese astronaut, all of whom have on average four to six month tours, NBC News reported.

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