EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

May 12, 2013

Spacewalking repair halts station leak , for now

(Continued)

The space agency never before staged such a fast, impromptu spacewalk for a station crew. Even during the shuttle program, unplanned spacewalks were uncommon.

The ammonia pump was the chief suspect going into Saturday’s spacewalk. So it was disheartening for NASA, at first, as Cassidy and Marshburn reported nothing amiss on or around the old pump.

“All the pipes look shiny clean, no crud,” Cassidy said as he used a long, dentist-like mirror to peer into tight, deep openings.

“I can’t give you any good data other than nominal, unfortunately. No smoking guns.”

Engineers determined there was nothing to lose by installing a new pump, despite the lack of visible damage to the old one. The entire team — weary and stressed by the frantic pace of the past two days — gained more and more confidence as the 5 1/2-hour spacewalk drew to a close with no flecks of ammonia popping up.

“Gloved fingers crossed,” space station commander Chris Hadfield said in a tweet from inside. “No leaks!” he wrote a half-hour later.

Flight controllers in Houston worked furiously to get ready for Saturday’s operation, completing all the required preparation in under 48 hours. The astronauts trained for just such an emergency scenario before they rocketed into orbit.

This area on the space station is prone to leaks.

The ammonia coursing through the plumbing is used to cool the space station’s electronic equipment. There are eight of these power channels, and all seven others are operating normally.

Life for the six space station residents has been pretty much unaffected since Thursday’s ammonia shower. The loss of an additional power channel, however, could threaten science experiments and backup equipment.

“We may not have found exactly the smoking gun,” Cassidy said, “but to pull off what this team did yesterday and today, working practically 48 straight hours, it was a remarkable effort on everybody’s behalf.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
World/National News

Latest U.S. News
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve 3 People Killed, Deputies Wounded in NC Shootout Suing Obama: GOP-led House Gives the Go-ahead Obama: 'Blood of Africa Runs Through My Veins' Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Air Force: Stowaway Triggers Security Review Minnesota Fire Engulfs Home, Two Garages Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Officials Unsure of UCLA Flood Repair Date At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii
Latest World News
Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Raw: Smoke, Explosions Fill Gaza Skyline Today in History for July 31st Raw: 16 Killed in Gaza Market Strike Raw: Guinea Rap Concert Stampede Kills 33+ Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Graphic Video: 15 Killed at Gaza UN School Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Floodwaters Ravage Villages in Romania Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Today in History for July 30th Raw: Aftermath, Artillery Shells Hit Donetsk Muslims Celebrate Eid El-Fitr Around the World Gaza Official: at Least 100 Killed Tuesday Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism
Photos of the Week