Photo: ISS Spacewalk
Repairing a faulty cooling pump on the International Space Station will require three spacewalks, NASA said.
The two NASA astronauts among ISS Expedition 38’s six-person crew, Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins, are scheduled to spend around 6 1/2 hours in space over the course of three separate excursions on Dec. 21, 23 and 25.
One of the ISS’ two external cooling pumps shut itself down Dec. 11 after sensors detected a temperature anomaly.
While posing no threat to the crew, the pump malfunction forced a shutdown of non-critical systems. NASA hoped to correct the problem through a software fix, but engineers ultimately concluded the unit would have to be replaced.
Mastracchio and Hopkins will remove the defective pump and replace it with a spare unit that is stored on the exterior of the ISS.
The pump issued forced NASA to postpone this week’s scheduled launch of a commercial cargo resupply mission to the ISS.
Private contractor Orbital Science was set to launch the Cygnus capsule atop an Antares rocket from a site in coastal Virginia. The mission will now take place in mid-January at the earliest, NASA said.