Astronauts aim to fix ammonia leak at space station

May 10, 2013

Two astronauts are preparing to step out on a spacewalk to try and fix an ammonia leak at the International Space Station, in a hastily arranged venture outside the orbiting lab, NASA said Friday.

The by Americans Tom Marshburn and Chris Cassidy is set to begin Saturday at 1215 GMT. Their main goal is to spot the source of the leak, said Michael Suffredini, program manager.

A meteorite or a piece of is suspected to have hit the cooling radiator and caused the damage, which Suffredini described as an "annoyance because of all the work we have to do to work around the problem."

The latest leak is believed to be linked to a years-old concern that took a turn for the worse on Thursday when it began leaking about five pounds (two kilograms) of ammonia per day, up from its previous level of five pounds per year.

"We are going to get them outside and see if we can't lay eyes on the leak source," Suffredini told reporters.

"Most probably the cause is the pump itself, so we are going to go ahead and change out that pump."

The two American astronauts have each done three spacewalks during the shuttle era, and two of them were done as a team.

flight director Norm Knight said the spacewalk is "probably one of the faster ones" that the has had to assemble, and described it as "precedent-setting" at the space station for that reason.

However, NASA said that the crew was not in danger and that the system is running fine with seven of eight available power channels in working order.

The 6.5-hour spacewalk will not interfere with the planned departure from the space station of Marshburn, Canadian ISS commander Chris Hadfield and Roman Romanenko, NASA said.

The trio is set to return to Earth early Tuesday after completing their half-year stint at the orbiting outpost.

Explore further: SpaceX breaks ground on Texas rocket launch site

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Soyuz capsule docks with space Station

Dec 21, 2012

A Soyuz capsule packed with three astronauts successfully docked Friday with the International Space Station, taking the size of the full crew at the orbiting laboratory to six.

Recommended for you

Getting to the root of the problem in space

2 hours ago

When we go to Mars, will astronauts be able to grow enough food there to maintain a healthy diet? Will they be able to produce food in NASA's Orion spacecraft on the year-long trip to Mars? How about growing ...

The difference between CMEs and solar flares

4 hours ago

This is a question we are often asked: what is the difference between a coronal mass ejection (CME) and a solar flare? We discussed it in a recent astrophoto post, but today NASA put out a video with amazing graphics that explain ...

Scientific instruments of Rosetta's Philae lander

4 hours ago

When traveling to far off lands, one packs carefully. What you carry must be comprehensive but not so much that it is a burden. And once you arrive, you must be prepared to do something extraordinary to make ...

How ancient impacts made mining practical

6 hours ago

About 1.85 billion years ago, in what would come to be known as Sudbury Canada, a 10 kilometer wide asteroid struck with such energy that it created an impact crater 250 kilometers wide. Today the chief industry of Sudbury ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2013
This is primarily why the ISS was built - to test the long-term performance of complex systems in space. Imagine if this problem had occurred on a craft halfway to jupiter.

What we learned from building and operating the ISS is worth far more than whatever science we may do up there.