NASA astronauts on Tuesday completed urgent repairs to the cooling system of the International Space Station that should return it to normal operation within a few days.
In a 7½-hour space walk, their second in four days, astronauts Col. Michael Hopkins of the Air Force and Richard Mastracchio installed a new pump module on the outside of the space station. The module, a 780-pound box about the size of a refrigerator, contains a pump and accompanying apparatus that circulate ammonia coolant through one of two loops on the station.
Operations on the space station, including some science experiments, have been curtailed since a valve in the pump module malfunctioned two weeks ago. The pump passed a brief check, and is to be turned on Tuesday evening.
The astronauts ran into trouble when one of the ammonia fluid lines would not detach. With brainstorming help from mission control, they finally succeeded, but then some toxic flakes of frozen ammonia leaked out.
The astronauts had to take a few precautions at the end of the space walk to ensure their spacesuits were decontaminated.
The New York Times
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