TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Spacewalk planned to fix 'serious' ammonia leak at International Space Station

About The Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.
Contact Us | Video | Photo Reprints
Details

Ammonia leak

• Liquid ammonia is used to extract the heat that builds up in electronic systems.

• The seepage is coming from the station's port side, at the far end of the backbone, or truss, structure that holds one of the laboratory's huge sets of solar arrays.

• The coolant system requires at least 40 pounds of ammonia to operate normally. Based on the observed leak rate, the channel 2B coolant loop was expected to drop below that level on Friday.

Daily Photo Galleries


By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, May 10, 2013, 7:27 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Two astronauts will make a precedent-setting spacewalk on Saturday to try to fix an ammonia leak in the power system of the International Space Station.

Station Commander Chris Hadfield of Canada reported on Thursday seeing “a very steady stream of flakes.” He tweeted, “It is a serious situation.”

Spacewalks are rarely done on such short notice, but the space agency says the six-member crew is not in danger.

The ammonia leak forced the shutdown of one of eight solar panels that power the station, but the outpost can operate fine with only seven, spokesman Kelly Humphries said.

One of the spacewalk veterans slated for the job is due to return to Earth on Monday, one of the reasons NASA wants to tackle the problem this weekend, he said.

Hadfield told NASA flight controllers on Friday that the six-member crew is completely ready for the spacewalk.

“I think it's really smart the way we're all proceeding here,” Hadfield radioed down to Earth.

The leak is in one of the radiator lines that chill the power systems. NASA spokesman Rob Navias said the line was expected to run out of ammonia coolant Friday. Power has been rerouted and is operating normally, he said.

“What's causing the leak is unknown,” Navias said.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. 150-plus birds seized at fighting venue in W.Va.
  2. Study says regular pot use affects the brain
  3. Immigration activists threaten Obama, Democrats
  4. Bankrupt Detroit, retired cops, fire crews agree to deal that saves pensions
  5. Authorities say they have trove of evidence against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Boston Marathon bombing
  6. At least 5 women linked to sexual torture case in St. Louis
  7. Subsitute for Pap smear scorned; overtreatment cited
  8. Mass. can’t ban painkiller, judge rules
  9. Rural Texas town where fertilizer plant exploded to consider fostering new facility
  10. Investment analyst  to get Medal of Honor
  11. T. rex gets the red-carpet treatment at Smithsonian
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.