independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Space station crew begin vital repairs

Astronaut Rick Mastracchio performs a space walk outside the International Space Station
Astronaut Rick Mastracchio performs a space walk outside the International Space Station

Astronauts ventured out yesterday on the first of a series of urgent repair spacewalks to revive a crippled cooling line at the International Space Station.

The crew will need to perform two and, quite possibly, three spacewalks to replace an ammonia pump containing a bad valve.

The next walk will be tomorrow, followed by the third on Christmas Day if it's needed.

The breakdown 10 days ago left one of two identical cooling loops too cold and forced the astronauts to turn off all non-essential equipment inside the orbiting lab, bringing scientific research to a near-halt and leaving the station in a vulnerable state.

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