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Spacewalk might be needed to fix ISS cooling system

By Kyle Johnson,

Should NASA give him the go-ahead, astronaut Rick Mastracchio is willing to slip outside of the International Space Station to fix a cooling system problem.

Mastracchio spoke to The Associated Press, saying, "Any time you have something like this, it's good news, bad news."

He emphasized the bad news was that a spacewalk was challenging and usually meant there was a serious problem that needed to be fixed, but it was still an "exciting" event.

This is the third day since the external cooling pump initially registered a problem and NASA engineers were still hoping to fix the bad valve remotely instead of sending anyone outside of the ISS.

The cooling pump registered as too cold and shut itself off, which could eventually lead to serious problems. So the six astronauts on the ISS have shut down any nonessential equipment to keep the temperature down while engineers searched for a solution.

"We still have lights. We still have the toilet working. We still have food, and we're still very comfortable here," Mastracchio commented. "So the biggest problem is that we're just not taking the time ... to do as much science as we normally would."

On Wednesday, the problem was reported, but Johnson Space Center spokesman Kelly Humphries made sure to downplay the problem a little bit, noting that while the cooling pump shutdown is a serious issue, it wasn't yet an emergency and the astronauts were fine for the time being inside the ISS.

It was also noted that even after shutting down nonessential equipment, the ISS could function as it was for a couple weeks while a solution was devised.

image: Wikimedia Commons

 
 

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