According to reports on Space Safety Magazine, the International Space Station (ISS) has sprung a leak in a section of its cooling system, in the same vicinity as a leak that required a spacewalk in 2012. NASA is unsure if this most recent leak is related to the one that occurred last November.
The space station’s crew needs the systems to rein in the heat caused by the systems onboard the orbiting laboratory. The Expedition 35 crew noted white flakes floating outside the station May 9; using a variety of camera equipment, the leak was discovered.
Upon review it was estimated that the loop could fail in 48 hours. In the meantime, engineers are coming up with contingency plans that would direct power channels away from the affected system. According to Florida Today, engineers are working to isolate the leak and the problem could cause at least a partial system shutdown.
The leak is located on the ammonia loop element of the station. This component is used to help cool the excess heat generated by the American solar arrays on the station. Given that the leak is taking place on the exterior of the station, there is no threat to the safety of the crew; however, they will likely be required to stop using certain equipment until the damage can be repaired.
If this leak ends up being of a similar nature to the 2012 leak, it could require astronauts to conduct an extra-vehicular activity to repair the damage. This element is located on the station’s P6 truss assembly.
The International Space Station is comprised of various elements from the 16 different nations that are a part of the project. Some elements of the space station have been on orbit since 1998. Currently only Russia is capable of sending crew to and returning them from the ISS.
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