Space station cooling breakdown may delay Orbital launch

Dec 12, 2013
This March 7, 2011 NASA handout image shows the International Space Station in an image photographed by an STS-133 crew member on space shuttle Discovery after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation

NASA rushed Thursday to fix a breakdown in the cooling system at the International Space Station that may delay the launch next week of Orbital Sciences' first cargo mission.

Engineers are still trying to figure out what caused the fault Wednesday in a flow valve that controls the temperature of the equipment aboard the station, said mission team manager Kenny Todd.

The astronauts on board are "in good shape," and comfortable after the problem, which NASA has said posed no danger.

A spacewalk might be necessary to get a closer look at the external thermal control loops—of which two exist on the station—and the defective valve, but NASA has not yet decided on that.

A temporary fix is in place in the meantime, in which some elements have been turned off to save power and the cooling system is functioning in a non-integrated fashion, he said.

"This is a position we don't want to be in long term," he added.

"In the meanwhile, we have a good stable configuration."

A decision will likely be made by Monday as to whether Orbital Sciences' maiden launch of its Cygnus unmanned cargo craft can go ahead as scheduled on December 18.

The extends to the 21st, Todd said.

"We are going to kick the can for a little bit and let the crew work a little bit more," he said on NASA television.

"Our primary focus at this point is trying to recover this loop."

A similar problem occurred in 2010 aboard the ISS so NASA has some experience with the protocol needed to change out a faulty pump on the outside of the lab, he added.

Explore further: NASA suspects bad valve for space station trouble (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA: Cooling pump on space station shuts down

Dec 12, 2013

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, ...

Cygnus cargo craft readies to leave space station

Oct 21, 2013

A private cargo ship built by Orbital Sciences Corporation is preparing to leave the International Space Station early Tuesday and burn up on re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, NASA said Monday.

Recommended for you

Astronauts to reveal sobering data on asteroid impacts

12 minutes ago

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… ...

Rosetta instrument commissioning continues

52 minutes ago

We're now in week four of six dedicated to commissioning Rosetta's science instruments after the long hibernation period, with the majority now having completed at least a first initial switch on.

Astronaut salary

1 hour ago

Talk about a high-flying career! Being a government astronaut means you have the chance to go into space and take part in some neat projects—such as going on spacewalks, moving robotic arms and doing science ...

Red moon at night; stargazer's delight

20 hours ago

Monday night's lunar eclipse proved just as delightful as expected to those able to view it. On the East Coast, cloudy skies may have gotten in the way, but at the National Science Foundation's National Optical ...

Meteorites yield clues to Martian early atmosphere

23 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Geologists who analyzed 40 meteorites that fell to Earth from Mars unlocked secrets of the Martian atmosphere hidden in the chemical signatures of these ancient rocks. Their study, published ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Rosetta instrument commissioning continues

We're now in week four of six dedicated to commissioning Rosetta's science instruments after the long hibernation period, with the majority now having completed at least a first initial switch on.

A sharp eye on Southern binary stars

Unlike our sun, with its retinue of orbiting planets, many stars in the sky orbit around a second star. These binary stars, with orbital periods ranging from days to centuries, have long been the primary ...

Hubble image: A cross-section of the universe

An image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range ...

Astronaut salary

Talk about a high-flying career! Being a government astronaut means you have the chance to go into space and take part in some neat projects—such as going on spacewalks, moving robotic arms and doing science ...

Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster, the ...

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?