Risky spacewalk scheduled to fix ISS cooling problem, says NASA source
After attempts to restart the malfunctioning cooling loop on the International Space Station from the inside failed last night, NASA mission managers have decided a spacewalk will be required to fix the problem, a source privy to NASA operations told TV20 News.
The mission managers have scheduled the first spacewalk for Dec. 19th, according to the source, with two other spacewalks, also known as EVAs, likely to follow a few days after.
If astronauts can't fix the problem before Dec. 28th, they will have to wait awhile before conducting another spacewalk due to a beta cut-out—which means the space station’s orbital location would expose any astronauts conducting an EVA to too many solar rays—during late December and early January.
According to NASA's real-time ISS data, the station's malfunctioning cooling loop is still reading temperatures well below normal, down around -36 degrees Celsius. The functioning loop is reading around 4 degrees Celsius.
As we have reported, the spacewalk will be risky because NASA engineers still do not know why their spacesuits sometimes fill up with water. Astronaut Luca Parmitano almost drowned during a spacewalk in mid-July because of that problem.
The source said NASA currently has three spacesuits—Parmitano’s old suit as well as two others—available to conduct EVAs, all of which are susceptible to the flooding problem.
The astronauts plan to use the other two suits during any repair EVAs, with Parmitano's old suit as a backup, according to the source.
The flooding problem may recur during the spacewalk, the source said, preventing the repairs.
NASA was not immediately available for comment, though the agency said in an update on its website that "the science data collected so far is not at risk."
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