NASA: Cooling pump on space station shuts down

Dec 12, 2013 by Seth Borenstein
This NASA photo obtained June 18, 2013 shows a view of Earth as seen from the Cupola on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station.

NASA said Wednesday it was looking into a problem with a malfunctioning cooling pump on the International Space Station, but there was no immediate danger to the two American astronauts, three Russian cosmonauts, and Japanese astronaut on board.

A valve on a on one of the station's two external loops shut down because it was too cool Wednesday afternoon, NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs said. He said that at no time was the crew at risk. But some non-critical equipment on the massive orbital outpost was powered down.

"It could be a serious problem, but it's not an emergency," Johnson Space Center spokesman Kelly Humphries said.

Engineers suspect a valve inside the pump was faulty and ground controllers moved electrical power supplies to the other cooling loop, Jacobs said. These loops circulate ammonia outside the station to keep equipment inside and outside cool.

"The station wasn't ever in any danger," Jacobs said.

Jacobs said the crew were preparing to go to bed as normal, while engineers on the ground tried to troubleshoot the problem. The faulty pump and cooling loop did start up again, he said.

Humphries said it was too early to speculate whether a spacewalk would be needed to fix the problem.

The station commander is cosmonaut Oleg Kotov. Americans Rick Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins, Russians Mikhail Tyurin and Sergey Ryazanaskiy, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata are aboard. The orbital outpost, the size of a football field and weighing nearly 1 million pounds (450,000), has been in orbit more than 220 miles (354 kilometers) above Earth since 1998.

Explore further: Start of dwarf planet mission delayed after small mix-up

Related Stories

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. ...

Trio takes Soyuz for spin around ISS

Nov 01, 2013

An international trio of astronauts on Thursday took a Soyuz space capsule on a rare trip around the International Space Station in preparation for the arrival of a new crew next week.

Olympic torch blasts into space for 1st spacewalk

Nov 07, 2013

A Russian rocket soared into the cosmos Thursday carrying the Sochi Olympic torch and three astronauts to the International Space Station ahead of the first-ever spacewalk for the symbol of peace.

Recommended for you

Can sound help us detect 'earthquakes' on Venus?

Apr 23, 2015

Detecting an "earthquake" on Venus would seem to be an impossible task. The planet's surface is a hostile zone of crushing pressure and scorching temperatures—about 874 degrees F, hot enough to melt lead—that ...

Titan's atmosphere useful in study of hazy exoplanets

Apr 23, 2015

With more than a thousand confirmed planets outside of our solar system, astronomers are attempting to identify the atmospheres of these distant bodies to determine if they could possibly host life.

User comments : 0

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.