10 May 2013 23:43 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officials said late on Friday that crew members of the International Space Station (ISS) will attempt to spacewalk early on Saturday to try and stop the ammonia leak from the vessel’s cooling system.
According to officials, crew members saw small white flakes floating away from the vessel during the day on Thursday, and NASA has determined the leak is releasing about 5 lbs/day (2.3kg/day).
Officials further said the crew has been preparing for the repair work, are still not in any danger and are overall in good spirits despite the seriousness of the situation, which if not immediately addressed, could cause the station’s cooling system to shutdown.
After some initial review using remote cameras, the US space agency has determined the leak is coming from a left truss structure. Once at the site of the leak, NASA said the crew will first conduct a visual inspection and then try to plug the leak, which is being described as a very small crack in the structure and likely is coming from an internal pump that circulates the ammonia.
NASA added that before that time, the coolant could run out and would have to be turned off, but otherwise the rest of the station is operating as normal.
ISS officials did say Friday afternoon that the system has been having issues for years and that previous attempts, like the one in November 2012, have not fully corrected the problem, adding that there is optimism that it can be resolved without further repair efforts.
The space station orbits between 205 and 270 miles (330 and 434 km) above earth and is jointly owned by the United States and Russia. It includes partnerships with Europe, Japan and Canada. Its primary function is to serve as a space environment research laboratory and was launched in 1998 at a price of $100bn (€77bn). Funding for the project has been granted through 2020.
($1 = €0.77)
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