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International Space Station Coolant System Still Malfunctioning

It's always worse when things break in space.

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The International Space Station’s coolant system, which was supposed to have been fixed by a space walk months ago, is still acting up. Many of the space station’s systems had to be powered down to avoid overheating as only the backup coolant system is functioning properly.

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The station’s coolant system pipes ammonia through two loops. A valve on loop A, the main loop, has been malfunctioning, and the system is unable to dissipate heat into space. Loop B, while it’s functioning perfectly, isn’t able to serve the entire station by itself. Several parts of the station had to be powered down to avoid damage, which includes parts of the research laboratory.

Astronauts on the ISS aren’t in immediate danger, but NASA is anxious to get the problem fixed, because now there is no backup if something happens to loop B. If a solution can’t be found by engineers on the ground, the astronauts will have to go on a spacewalk to replace the faulty valve. That’s exactly what astronauts Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn attempted to do months ago on an emergency spacewalk after the faulty valve was discovered.

Let’s hope the fix goes well this time around. We need to keep getting pictures like this from those brilliant astronauts:

(via CBS, image via Matheepan Panchalingam)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct <em>Geekosystem</em> (RIP), and then at <em>The Mary Sue</em> starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at <em>Smash Bros.</em>

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