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NASA to decide soon on spacewalks to repair ISS

3:52 PM, Dec 16, 2013   |    comments
The International Space Station
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(Florida Today) -- NASA could order spacewalks as soon as Thursday to repair a coolant loop problem that has the International Space Station operating with limited power.

Engineers are still working on a potential fix from the ground that would enable a different valve to help regulate coolant temperatures, in place of one that failed last Wednesday.

This morning Kenny Todd, NASA's station operations integration manager, said there has been some success pulling that off, but it's not clear if it will be enough to power back on systems that have been shut down to prevent overheating.

Managers have not ruled out the possibility that a robotic resupply mission could launch from Virginia as soon as Thursday evening. Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket and Cygnus freighter are scheduled to roll to their Virginia launch pad early Tuesday.

Meanwhile, NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio have been checking spacesuits and reviewing procedures in case they are needed later this week to replace the ammonia pump module with the faulty valve.

A NASA TV commentator said a decision on how to proceed was expected within a day or two.

The six-person crew is not in danger, but NASA does not want the station operating long with only one of its two external coolant loops. That configuration limits science research and leaves the outpost more vulnerable to other system failures.

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