|Monday - May 13, 2013
...THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR
TSTMS ACROSS NORTHERN INTERMOUNTAIN REGION...
News and Comments....
Spacewalking Repair Halts Station
Leak - For Now
Published May 11, 2013 | Associated
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.
Astronauts making a rare, hastily planned spacewalk
replaced a pump outside the
International Space Station on Saturday in hopes
of plugging a serious ammonia
The prospects of success grew
as the minutes, then hours passed and no
frozen flecks of ammonia appeared.
Mission Control said it appeared as
though the leak may have been
plugged, although additional monitoring over
the coming weeks will be needed
before declaring a victory.
"I will tell you that we're happy.
We're very happy," said Joel Montalbano,
NASA's deputy space station
program manager. "We didn't see any obvious
signs of a leak, but it's going
to take some time ... for us to look at the
system, evaluate the system
and make sure we did, indeed, stop the leak."
Montalbano expects it will take
"a good four weeks, five weeks, maybe even a
few weeks longer."
"Obviously, the longer you go,
the more confidence you get," he told
Christopher Cassidy and Thomas
Marshburn installed the new pump after
removing the old one suspected
of spewing flakes of frozen ammonia coolant
two days earlier. They uncovered
"no smoking guns" responsible for the leak
and consequently kept a sharp
lookout for any icy flecks that might appear
from the massive frame that
holds the solar panels on the left side.
"Let us know if you see anything,"
Mission Control urged as the fresh pump
was cranked up. Thirty minutes
later, all was still well. "No snow," the
"We have our eyes on it and haven't
seen a thing," Marshburn said.
NASA said the leak, while significant,
never jeopardized crew safety. But
managers wanted to deal with
the trouble now, while it's fresh and before
Marshburn returns to Earth in
just a few days.
The space agency never before
staged such a fast, impromptu spacewalk for a
station crew. Even during the
shuttle program, unplanned spacewalks were
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
"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
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
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
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."
NASA officials remain mystified
as to why the leak erupted. Ammonia already
had been seeping ever so slightly
from the location, but the flow increased
Montalbano did not know, as of
Saturday evening, how much ammonia was lost.
Another spacewalk will be needed
to replenish the supply.
With the repair work behind them,
the astronauts and ground controllers
turned their attention to the
impending departure of three of the six
Marshburn has been on the space
station since December and is set to return
to Earth late Monday, along
with Hadfield, a Canadian, and Russian Roman
Romanenko. Cassidy is a new
arrival, on board for just 1 1/2 months.
By coincidence, the two Americans
performed a spacewalk at this troublesome
spot before, during a shuttle
visit in 2009.
"This type of event is what the
years of training were for," Hadfield said
in a tweet Friday. "A happy,
busy crew, working hard, loving life in space."
Men are like linoleum floors.
Lay 'em right and you can walk all over them
for thirty years.~ Betsy Salkind
That's it for today, have a good
week, and be careful out there,
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