NASA has attracted the attention of the science world Wednesday with news that a cooling pump has failed on the International Space Station (ISS). A cooling system aboard the ISS has apparently been damaged to the point that it might require a spacewalk.
The core of the problem appears to be that the system shut itself down automatically after it detected unusual temperatures. NASA officials spoke candidly about the problem, and from reports it appears that the issue has been credited to a faulty valve on a pump outside of the station itself.
Brandi Dean, a NASA official, stated that one of the cooling loops located outside of the ISS malfunctioned, and that this is understood to be the cause of the recent pump shutdown. It is believed that an excess of ammonia may have also been a contributing factor. She highlighted the importance of the cooling system, pointing to the fact that in space heat does not dissipate in the same manner as on land.
Dean made clear mention that there is no danger to the crew and that the scientific samples, along with the temperature-controlled areas in which they are stored are all functioning properly. She reiterated that the main issues are the one failed external loop, and exactly what measures can and should be taken to remedy the situation.
NASA specialists are presently working to determine whether the cooling pump failure on the International Space Station stems from a software or hardware problem. The actions taken to remedy the problem differ greatly, and depend on the diagnosis of flight controllers. If the tests point to a software problem, the fix would be relatively simple, requiring as little as a software update. If however, the problems center around hardware issues, repairs may require a spacewalk. At present, it remains unclear whether the failure is serious enough to require hands on attention or not.
Another NASA spokesman, Josh Byerly, reassured concerned parties stating that the problem was not as “catastrophic” as it is being made out to be. He reiterated that the crew’s safety has been established and that ground crews were working to more fully understand the problem and determine corrective action.
The recent events take on added seriousness when considering the stations big scare back in July. Nearly six months ago, Italian spacewalker Luca Parmitano barely escaped death by drowning as he worked in space. His helmet was filling dangerously fast with water, however the lucky Italian space-cadet made his way back to the station in time to dodge a fatal accident. Regarding this most recent ISS issue, everyone remains safe and secure and awaiting further decisions on how to deal with the shutdown of the cooling pump.
The ISS serves quite an impressive and important array of duties. The station’s purpose is to serve as a strategic asset in a world nations, and the US in particular, are increasingly reliant on scientific advancement and technology for their comparative advantage. In terms of space development and the aspirations of science however, the ISS may serve as a beacon for the global scientific community. The original intent for its founding was that it be an observatory, a laboratory and also function as a factory in space.
NASA officials have reassured interested parties that although the cooling pump failure aboard the International Space Station has caused some complications, it is positive in its prospects that the situation will be remedied appropriately. The science world, along with interested space-lovers, await further information and hope for a smooth solution this recent issue facing the ISS.
By Daniel Worku