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Ammonia leak at the International Space Station 'very serious'

The ISS crew is performing an emergency spacewalk to address the ammonia leak.

Nasa loses contact international space stationEnlarge
Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy (left) and Roman Romanenko, both Expedition 34 flight engineers, monitor data at the manual TORU docking system controls in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station during approach and docking operations of the unpiloted ISS Progress 50 resupply vehicle. (NASA/Courtesy)

The International Space Station is experiencing a "very serious" ammonia leak that may require its team to do an emergency space walk. 

"Indeed, they have a serious defect, very serious," flight director for the Russian segment of the space station Vladimir Solovyov said

The crew reported Thursday that an increased rate of ammonia was leaking from a section of the ISS' cooling system. The space station uses ammonia to cool the power channels that provide the station's electricity.

NASA said in a statement yesterday that the station was continuing to operate normally otherwise and that the crew was not in danger. 

"Plans are being developed to reroute other power channels to maintain full operation of those and other systems normally controlled by the solar array that is cooled by this loop," NASA said.

However, the situation seems to have worsened overnight, according to NASA Space Flight, and an emergency space walk to rectify the issue has been scheduled for Saturday. 

"We’re probably not at the point where anyone needs hold a good thought for the ISS crew yet — after all, there’s a reason these guys get to go to the ISS and we don’t," wrote Geekosystem. "They’re pretty well-equipped to handle this kind of thing, whereas I would probably just be rocking back and forth slowly in zero gravity right now." 

Three astronauts — Canadian commander Chris Hadfield, NASA's Tom Marshburn and Russian Roman Romanenko — are scheduled to leave the space station Monday morning, but could be delayed depending on the severity of the leak.

Hadfield tweeted about the situation from the ISS:

More from GlobalPost: NASA briefly loses contact with International Space Station

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/130510/ammonia-leak-international-space-station-very-serious