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Space station grappling with cooling glitch

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Part of the cooling system aboard the International Space Station has malfunctioned, and experts are trying to figure out what caused the problem and how to fix it, NASA announced late Dec. 11.

The agency insisted that the station’s crew is not in any danger.

“The crew is safe and preparing to begin a normal sleep shift while experts on the ground collect more data and consider what troubleshooting activities may be necessary,” NASA said in a statement.

The problem surfaced earlier in the day when a coolant pump shut down automatically because it became too cold, NASA said. The cause seems to be a faulty flow-control valve within the pump. Some “non-critical” systems aboard the orbiting laboratory have been powered down while the station’s flight control teams try to return the pump to service.

The development came one week before Orbital Sciences Corp. is scheduled to conduct the first of eight resupply missions to the station. A rocket carrying the new Cygnus cargo spacecraft is to be launched Dec. 18 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

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