NEW YORK, December 19. /ITAR-TASS/. Problems in the cooling system of the International Space Station (ISS) have not affected the ISS Russian segment, ISS programme manager Michael Suffredini told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
He stressed, in particular, that all the systems responsible for the energy supply of the Russian segment were operational. According to Suffredini, efforts were made to adjust the power supply and reduce the load on the stations electricity supply system. However, the Russian segment receives all the power needed for the work. He also noted that US astronauts planned to cope with technical malfunctions as soon as possible, so as not to interfere with the plans of the Russian colleagues’ spacewalk.
Problems in the US segment of the ISS, in particular, the failure of the valve regulating the flow of ammonia and coolant temperature, emerged on December 11. Attempts to restore its normal operation have been unsuccessful so far.
For troubleshooting purposes, Suffredini told a news conference, it was planned to make three spacewalks lasting approximately 6.5 hours each. The first of them is scheduled for Saturday, December 21, the second — for Monday, December 23, and the third — for Wednesday, December 27. All these EVAs will be performed by astronauts Richard Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins. Mastracchio has already worked it outer space for 38.5 hours, and the Hopkins it will be the first spacewalk. The astronauts would get a spare valve that is stored outside the station and replace the defective part.
NASA representatives previously said that the problems had forced flight controllers to shut down non-essential systems, in the US module Harmony, as well as Japanese and European laboratory module Kibo and Columbus, curtailing science operations. The Russian ISS segment uses a separate cooling system. The crew is safe. The crew includes, together with two Americans, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, Sergei Ryazansky and Mikhail Tyurin, as well as and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.
Suffredini also said that technical problems have not resulted in the loss of any research results data.
In connection with the decision to make a spacewalk to replace the pump, NASA had to postpone the launch of its news spacecraft Cygnus to the ISS. “NASA managers are postponing the upcoming Orbital Sciences commercial cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station to proceed with a series of spacewalks to replace a faulty pump module on the space station. Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus spacecraft, atop its Antares rocket, now will launch no earlier than January. The postponement of the Antares launch will allow ample time for the station crew to focus on repairing a faulty pump module that stopped working properly on December 11,” NASA said. Its launch was initially planned for December 19 from the spaceport at Wallops Island (Virginia), located on the US Atlantic coast.
The cargo spacecraft is to deliver to the ISS crew 1.5 tonnes of food, water, equipment and materials for scientific experiments. The spacecraft and the rocket were built by Orbital Sciences. Under the contract with NASA worth $1.9 billion it will perform seven more flights to the ISS in the next three years.