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

Hinode satellite captures X-ray footage of solar eclipse

16 hours ago

The moon passed between the Earth and the sun on Thursday, Oct. 23. While avid stargazers in North America looked up to watch the spectacle, the best vantage point was several hundred miles above the North ...

Asteroid 2014 SC324 zips by Earth Friday afternoon

Oct 24, 2014

What a roller coaster week it's been. If partial eclipses and giant sunspots aren't your thing, how about a close flyby of an Earth-approaching asteroid?  2014 SC324 was discovered on September 30 this ...

User comments : 0