NASA suspects bad valve for space station trouble

NASA is scrambling to figure out what

In this image provided by NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, Expedition 20 flight engineer, participates in the STS-128 mission's first session of extravehicular activity on the International Space Station Sept. 1, 2009.(AP Photo/NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- NASA is scrambling to figure out what's wrong with a key cooling unit on the International Space Station.

On Wednesday, one of two identical cooling loops shut down. The system uses ammonia to dissipate heat from on-board equipment. One line was getting too cold. Engineers suspect a bad valve.

Mission Control ordered the six-man crew to turn off some science experiments and other non-critical equipment. Those instruments stayed off Thursday, while the astronauts remained safe and comfortable.

The suspect valve is in a pump that was replaced by spacewalking astronauts three years ago. Flight controllers are looking at ways to fix the valve. A software repair would be the easiest option, a spacewalk the most complicated.


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