Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Major system malfunctions in ISS

Suits are prepared in the Quest airlock.

Sometimes things break. When they break in space, it's time to be prepared instead of panic. Astronauts on the ISS were preparing to make a spacewalk in preparation for an upcoming shuttle launch. Instead, they'll now be making two spacewalks to repair the cooling and power systems on the ISS.

Over the weekend, an electrical spike tripped a breaker in the station's electrical system which shut down one of the ammonia tank pumps, necessary for cooling the station. When the system was restarted, it appeared there was further damage when half the station lost power.

Luckily (actually thanks to foresight!), spare parts are located on the external storage rack outside the station. The station itself is not in danger, as there are planned steps to cut power use and maintain necessary life support in case something like this should happen. Instead of a regularly planned day, however, the team is preparing to make the spacewalks necessary to get the station into fully operational condition.

The spacewalks will begin about 4 a.m. MDT on Friday.

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