International Space Station springs system coolant leak

One of the station's solar arrays is leaking coolant used to prevent the station's power systems from overheating, but it apparently doesn't pose a danger to the crew.

The International Space Station's P6 truss solar array. NASA

The International Space Station is leaking ammonia coolant used to prevent the station's power systems from overheating, but it doesn't pose a danger to the crew, NASA announced Thursday.

Crew aboard the space station alerted Mission Control to the appearance of small white flakes floating away from the station's P6 truss solar array this morning, NASA said in a statement. The ammonia loop affected is the same loop at which spacewalking astronauts attempted to troubleshoot a leak last November, NASA reported.

"There's a very steady stream of flakes or bits coming out as the truss is rotating," Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield said in a discussion with Mission Control. "All of us agree they are coming mainly and repeatedly enough that it looks like a point source that they were coming from."

Each solar array has its own cooling loop, and NASA hopes to reroute power from other sources to maintain full operation of systems controlled by the solar array cooled by the leaking loop.

Thermal control systems specialists suspect that at the current emission rate, the leaking loop will have to be shut down in the next 48 hours.

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Sci-Tech
NASA
About the author

Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. Before joining CNET News in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.

 

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