Spacewalking repairmen replace space station’s leaky pump

Astronauts Tom Marshburn (top) and Chris Cassidy (R) work during their spacewalk from the International Space Station Credit: Reuters/NASA
Astronauts Tom Marshburn (top) and Chris Cassidy (R) work during their spacewalk from the International Space Station
Credit: Reuters/NASA

A pair of spacewalking astronauts wrapped up a hastily planned repair job on Saturday to replace a suspect coolant pump needed to keep the International Space Station at full power.

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn put on spacesuits and left the space station’s airlock shortly before 9 a.m. EDT to attempt to stem an ammonia coolant leak that cropped up on Thursday.

Over the next four hours, they installed a spare pump, then positioned themselves to check for signs of escaping ammonia ice crystals when the system was turned back on.

“No flakes,” Cassidy reported to flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Engineers will monitor the system over the next several days and beyond to make sure the pump replacement fixed the problem.

“We certainly have come a long way in identifying a potential source,” said NASA mission commentator Rob Navias as the astronauts returned to the station’s airlock. The entire spacewalk lasted 5-1/2 hours.

The station crew discovered a steady stream of ammonia flakes flowing away from the far left side of the station’s exterior frame on Thursday. Flight controllers spent the next 48 hours diagnosing the problem and coming up with potential solutions.

Engineers believed the leak most likely was coming from in or around a 260-pound (118-kg) pump that pushes ammonia throughout the system. The coolant dissipates heat from electronics in space station’s solar-powered electrical system.

The station can be reconfigured to compensate for a system shutdown, but if a second problem should occur, that likely would mean a cutback in power available for the experiments.

The $100 billion station, which flies about 250 miles above Earth, is a research laboratory for biomedical, physics, astronomical and other experiments, as well as for technology development and demonstrations.

On Sunday, station commander Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to lead the international outpost, turns over the helm to Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov. Hadfield, Marshburn and cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, who have been aboard the station since December, are scheduled to depart on Monday.

Their replacements – NASA’s Karen Nyberg, Italy’s Luca Parmitano and Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin – are due to launch on May 28.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.