Photo: Astronauts repairing the leak (NASA)
Two astronauts managed to fix an ammonia leak on the International Space Station by replacing a defective pump during a spacewalk lasting a little over five hours, NASA said.
Astronauts Tom Marshburn and Chris Cassidy, both of whom are experienced in performing spacewalks, repaired the leak Saturday, replacing a defective pump blamed for the ammonia leak.
Engineers will take “several weeks” to determine the origin of the leak, which was detected last Thursday in the ISS cooling system, NASA officials said at a press conference at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Marshburn and Cassidy found no evidence of the leak and no apparent damage.
NASA engineers performed pressure tests on the cooling system as a precautionary measure to verify the proper functioning of the newly installed pump.
Ammonia is a basic element that circulates through the orbiting platform’s external temperature control system to cool and maintain the proper temperature for the ISS’s electronics and other systems.
The ISS, a $100 billion project in which 15 countries are cooperating, is orbiting some 385 kilometers (115 miles) above the Earth and traveling at almost 27,000 kph (16,740 mph).
Currently on board the space station are six crewmembers: Marshburn, Cassidy, Russians Roman Romanenko, Alexander Misurkin and Pavel Vinogradov and Canadian Chris Hadfield.
Marshburn, Hadfield and Romanenko are expected to return to Earth on Monday and the ammonia leak has not altered the plans for their journey back to terra firma, NASA said.