Galactic Glitch: Spacewalks on Hold After ISS Leak

International Space Station From SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour

The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a fly-around of the orbiting lab that took place following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on November 8, 2021. The orbital complex was flying 263 miles above the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean when this photograph was taken. Credit: NASA

NASA engineering and flight control teams are continuing to review data and video associated with a coolant leak from a backup radiator on the station’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module (MLM). Two United States segment spacewalks originally scheduled for Thursday, October 12, and Friday, October 20, have been postponed until the review is complete. New dates will be announced later.

The leak has now ceased, as was reported by Roscosmos flight controllers and evidenced by NASA external station camera views, which show only residual coolant droplets.

The primary radiator on Nauka continues to work normally, providing full cooling to the module with no impacts to the crew or to space station operations.

Historical Background and Ongoing Investigation

The backup radiator was delivered to the space station on the Rassvet module during space shuttle mission STS-132 in 2010. It was transferred to the Nauka during a Roscosmos spacewalk in April.

Teams on the ground continue to investigate the cause of the leak, and additional updates will be made as soon as available.

Roscosmos Progress 84 Cargo Craft Docked to ISS

The Roscosmos Progress 84 cargo craft is pictured docked to the International Space Station’s Poisk module. Credit: NASA

Daily Operations Aboard the ISS

Meanwhile, cargo operations and maintenance rounded out the day aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

All seven orbital lab residents began Wednesday morning weighing themselves in microgravity. While the space environment renders objects and humans weightless, they still have mass. The crew uses a specialized device that applies a known force to a crew member and measures the resulting acceleration to accurately calculate their mass.

Upcoming Spacewalk Preparations

The international septet then split up for the rest of the day moving on to a variety of activities in preparation for upcoming spacewalks. Astronauts Loral O’Hara of NASA and Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) will exit the space station and swab station surfaces to determine the types of microbes that might survive the extreme conditions of outer space. They will be supported by fellow astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA and Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) who will assist the spacewalkers before, during, and after the scheduled six-hour excursion.

NASA Astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli Tries On Spacesuit

Expedition 70 Commander Andreas Mogensen from ESA (European Space Agency) assists NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli as she tries on her spacesuit and tests its components aboard the International Space Station’s Quest airlock in preparation for an upcoming spacewalk. Credit: NASA

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub are also getting ready for a spacewalk together planned at the end of the month to install new hardware and deploy nanosatellites. The duo spent Wednesday morning studying the procedures planned for the six-hour and 45-minute spacewalk. After lunchtime, the Roscosmos flight engineers began collecting their spacesuit components and organizing spacewalking tools.

Cargo Transfer and Maintenance

Amidst the spacewalk prep work today, O’Hara, Mogensen, and Furukawa also took turns transferring cargo in and out of the Cygnus space freighter berthed to the Unity module’s Earth-facing port. Cygnus launched to the orbital outpost on August 1, carrying food, fuel, supplies, and new science experiments to study gene therapy, atmospheric density, spacecraft fire safety, and more. The cargo craft from Northrop Grumman is due to end its mission and depart in December.

Cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov spent his day supporting life support and electronics maintenance. The first-time space flyer finalized a session of carbon dioxide monitoring and readied radiation detectors that will be worn on spacesuits on an upcoming spacewalk. He also charged camcorder batteries and reconfigured video cameras.

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