Astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins have just concluded what appears to have been a very successful EVA this morning. It is the first of two or perhaps three spacewalks needed to fix the balky pump in the cooling system for the station. Today they removed the failed pump and prepared for inserting a spare pump on Monday.
Lots of pictures from the EVA were posted at ISS Updates (ISS101) on Twitter.
NASA astronauts will make up to three spacewalks starting on Dec. 21st to fix a pump valve in the cooling system. The EVAs are complicated by the spacesuit leak that occurred during a spacewalk last July by Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, who came close to drowning in space.
Here are some details about the cooling system and the spacesuit issue:
NASA gave a briefing on Wednesday on plan:
During NASA Television press briefing from Johnson Space Center, agency managers discussed a series of planned spacewalks, Dec. 21, 23 and 25 by NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins to replace a faulty coolant pump on the International Space Station.
The pump is associated with one of the station’s two external cooling loops, which circulate ammonia outside the station to keep both internal and external equipment cool.
The previously planned Orbital Sciences commercial cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station has been postponed until no earlier than mid-January. The postponement will allow ample time for the station crew to focus on repairing the pump module, which stopped working properly on Dec. 11.
The International Space Station has a cooling problem today. Here is an update from NASA:
Update on Space Station Cooling System
Earlier Wednesday, the pump module on one of the space station’s two external cooling loops automatically shut down when it reached pre-set temperature limits. These loops circulate ammonia outside the station to keep both internal and external equipment cool. The flight control teams worked to get the cooling loop back up and running, and they suspect a flow control valve actually inside the pump itself might not be functioning correctly.
At no time was the crew or the station itself in any danger, but the ground teams did work to move certain electrical systems over to the second loop. Some non-critical systems have been powered down inside the Harmony node, the Kibo laboratory and the Columbus laboratory while the teams work to figure out what caused the valve to not function correctly and how to fix it. The crew is safe and preparing to begin a normal sleep shift while experts on the ground collect more data and consider what troubleshooting activities may be necessary.
Update Dec.12.13: A report on the cooling loop problem:
Over the past couple of years I’ve shown here a number of the time-lapse videos of imagery of the earth as seen from the International Space Station. Here is a big collection of such videos, accompanied by lots of adjectives struggling mightily to describe what is displayed: The Best, Most Stunning, Jaw-Dropping Space Station Time-Lapses of All Time, Ever – Rebecca J. Rosen/The Atlantic.
An example of those time-lapse videos:
View from the ISS at Night from Knate Myers on Vimeo.