NASA has just announced that it has ordered a series of spacewalks, the first of which will take place in only 2 days, to fix a faulty coolant pump module on the International Space Station. The spacewalks will take place on December 21, 23, and 25 and will each begin at 7:10am EST.
So, what of the problems and the fix?
Last week, one of two coolant pumps on the ISS shut down when cooler than normal temperatures were detected, resulting in half of the station losing its ability to regulate temperature both internally and externally. To help compensate for the problem, non-essential systems are running on half power in order not to over-stress the other, functioning coolant pump.
As for the problem itself, the pump failed early last Wednesday and mission control was able to pinpoint the cause, a faulty valve, by mid-day. As an item of note: the 780-pound pump was last replaced in 2010 when the entire pump (not just an internal valve) failed.
Now, just after the ISS hit the one week mark without its pump working properly, there is now a plan of action in place to fix the problem. As for the fix: the entire pump unit will have to be replaced by the astronauts.
Additionally, there are now complications to the mission as it has just been announced that Orbital Sciences Corp is planning to delay the launch of its Cygnus supply ship to the ISS until mid-January at the earliest.
Stay tuned for further information.
For more info:
Hit the 'subscribe' button for automatic email updates when I write something new!