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: Russian, American ready for a year in space

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

Russian, American ready for a year in space

2 hours ago

The Russian astronaut heading off for a year in space says he'll miss the natural landscapes on Earth. His American counterpart jokes he won't miss his twin brother.

Image: The colors of sunset over the ISS

15 hours ago

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took these images from the International Space Station during her six-month mission. The Progress cargo ship and Soyuz crew spacecraft reflect sunlight as our star sets ...

Feud on Earth but peace in space for US and Russia

17 hours ago

Hundreds of kilometres below on Earth, their governments are locked in a standoff over Ukraine—but up in space, Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts are still working together side by side.

Japan launches replacement spy satellite

17 hours ago

Japan on Thursday successfully launched a replacement spy satellite, its aerospace agency said, as an existing device comes to the end of its working life.

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.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.