Spacewalking repair halts station leak
Additional monitoring over the next few weeks will be needed
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Astronauts making a rare, hastily planned spacewalk replaced a pump outside the International Space Station on Saturday in hopes of plugging a serious ammonia leak.
The prospects of success grew as the minutes, then hours passed and no frozen flecks of ammonia appeared. Mission Control said it appeared as though the leak may have been plugged, although additional monitoring over the coming weeks will be needed before declaring a victory.
"I will tell you that we're happy. We're very happy," said Joel Montalbano, NASA's deputy space station program manager. "We didn't see any obvious signs of a leak, but it's going to take some time ... for us to look at the system, evaluate the system and make sure we did, indeed, stop the leak."
Montalbano expects it will take "a good four weeks, five weeks, maybe even a few weeks longer."
"Obviously, the longer you go, the more confidence you get," he told reporters.
Christopher Cassidy and Thomas Marshburn installed the new pump after removing the old one suspected of spewing flakes of frozen ammonia coolant two days earlier. They uncovered "no smoking guns" responsible for the leak and consequently kept a sharp lookout for any icy flecks that might appear from the massive frame that holds the solar panels on the left side.
NASA said the leak, while significant, never jeopardized crew safety. But managers wanted to deal with the trouble now, while it's fresh and before Marshburn returns to Earth in just a few days.
The space agency never before staged such a fast, impromptu spacewalk for a station crew.
- ACT scores, 2015: A breakdown of each state,...
- The 25 most educated cities in America: Where...
- Poll: Utahns would take Donald Trump over...
- Fired reporter kills 2 former co-workers on...
- KUTV back on DISH Network; KSL still dark on...
- Trump says he's proud he booted Univision's...
- Walmart to cease sales of semiautomatic rifles
- GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul to hold...
- Poll: Utahns would take Donald Trump... 75
- Trump starts new media feud with... 36
- What keeps teachers from staying in the... 34
- GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush has... 28
- USC's Steve Sarkisian apologizes for... 17
- Trump says he's proud he booted... 16
- US stocks pare losses after 1,000-point... 15
- Fired reporter kills 2 former... 15