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ISS cooling system failure sparks concern on Earth, but no danger in heavens

Failure of one of two coolant loops forces NASA astronauts to shut down some non-essential systems aboard International Space Station.

International space stationEnlarge
The International Space Station (ISS) as seen from NASA space shuttle Endeavour on May 29, 2011. (NASA/AFP/Getty Images)

A problem with its cooling system, the third in two years, is causing minor headaches aboard the International Space Station, NASA confirmed on Wednesday.

Speaking to Mashable.com, a representative for the space agency said if computer software can’t rectify the problem, a spacewalk may be in order.

“A flow control valve is not operating as anticipated. The teams are trying to understand what they are seeing,” NASA representative Joshua Byerly told the website. “The team may power off selected components to avoid overheating while they watch the flow control valve and temperature control capability.”

NBC News touched off a mini-panic back on Earth when it reported an “urgent situation” aboard the ISS, which is now 15 years old.

None of the six astronauts aboard are threatened, Byerly later told NBC.

He said some work has been scaled back, and the second of two cooling loops is doing the work of its damaged counterpart.

“The crew was never in any danger,” Byerly said at NBCNews.com. “They’re fine for the near future.”

The defective loop was too cold. NASA provides live data of the ISS online.

Aboard the floating station are Japan’s Koichi Wakata, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, Mikhail Tyurin and Sergey Ryazanskiy, and NASA’s Michael Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio.

The cooling systems are external, which is why NASA is suggesting a spacewalk might be needed.

Crews first repaired the system in 2010 after a truss failed and again in May after an ammonia leak, Space.com reported.
 

Infographic: How the ISS's Ammonia Cooling System Works
Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/131211/iss-cooling-system-failure-sparks-concern-earth-no-danger-heavens