Quantcast
Latest Stories

Astronauts take spacewalk to find ammonia leak

By

In an image made from NASA TV, space station commander Sunita Williams, center, works on a leaky radiator system outside the International Space Station on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, just hours after barely dodging a menacing piece of orbiting junk. AP PHOTO/NASA

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida—Two spacewalking astronauts worked on a leaky radiator system outside the International Space Station on Thursday, just hours after the vessel barely dodged a menacing piece of orbiting junk.

The US space agency NASA ordered the space station to change position Wednesday to avoid a fragment from a communication satellite that was destroyed in a high-speed collision three years ago.

Thrusters on a docked Russian supply ship were fired to move the orbiting lab out of harm’s way. But a computer error caused the thrusters to malfunction, and the space station did not reach the desired altitude.

NASA officials said the space station and its six residents were safe despite their lower-than-intended orbit.

Space station commander Sunita Williams and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide wasted no time installing jumper cables outside their home for the past four months. Their objective was to isolate a suspect radiator to help determine whether that is the source of the ammonia coolant leak and deploy a spare radiator to bypass the troublesome section.

Engineers theorize that bits of space junk may have penetrated the radiator or part of its system; another possibility is that the 12-year-old equipment simply cracked.

The radiators are needed to dissipate heat generated by electronic equipment aboard the space station. Toxic ammonia is used as the coolant, and the spacewalkers took care to avoid contamination.

In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this week, Williams said the biggest risk is the uncertainty surrounding the leak. “We have a lot of extra procedures just in case things don’t go exactly as planned,” she said. “But we’ve dealt with ammonia before.”

A small leak was detected in this area in 2007. Spacewalking astronauts added extra ammonia last year to shore up the system, but this past summer, the leakage increased fourfold. At that rate, the affected power channel could be offline by the end of the year.

That’s why Thursday’s spacewalk was ordered up, even though it comes shortly before the departure of Williams and Hoshide. The two are scheduled to return to Earth on November 19, after a four-month mission.


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter




Recent Stories:

Warriors beat Clippers in playoff opener 34 mins elapsed Messy warehouse belongs to Unicef, WFP, says Soliman 2 hours elapsed Suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels release hostage 2 hours elapsed New meaning of Easter in Samar 2 hours elapsed Colombia hopes to share Garcia Marquez remains 2 hours elapsed Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway 2 hours elapsed Holy fire ceremony draws thousands in Jerusalem 3 hours elapsed Tanchanco, former NFA head; 83 3 hours elapsed
Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: International Space Station , Spacewalk , US



Copyright © 2014,
.
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement Advertisement

News

  • Messy warehouse belongs to Unicef, WFP, says Soliman
  • Suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels release hostage
  • New meaning of Easter in Samar
  • Colombia hopes to share Garcia Marquez remains
  • Holy fire ceremony draws thousands in Jerusalem
  • Sports

  • Warriors beat Clippers in playoff opener
  • Pacquiao top Mayweather contender
  • Rain or Shine, Ginebra clash for No. 6 spot
  • Ateneo eyes quarterfinal spot vs Benilde
  • Style contrast marks OneFC ‘Rise of Heroes’
  • Lifestyle

  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  • Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • Advertisement
    Marketplace