Space Stations

Space Station Spacewalks Postponed As Managers Review Nauka Leak Data

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 12, 2023
Space Station Spacewalks Postponed As Managers Review Nauka Leak Data

NASA engineering and flight control teams are continuing to review data and video associated with a coolant leak from a backup radiator on the station’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module (MLM). Two United States segment spacewalks originally scheduled for Thursday, Oct.12, and Friday, Oct. 20, have been postponed until the review is complete. New dates will be announced later.

The leak has now ceased, as was reported by Roscosmos flight controllers and evidenced by NASA external station camera views, which show only residual coolant droplets.

The primary radiator on Nauka continues to work normally, providing full cooling to the module with no impacts to the crew or to space station operations.

The backup radiator was delivered to the space station on the Rassvet module during space shuttle mission STS-132 in 2010. It was transferred to the Nauka during a Roscosmos spacewalk in April.

Teams on the ground continue to investigate the cause of the leak, and additional updates will be made as soon as available.

Meanwhile, cargo operations and maintenance rounded out the day aboard the International Space Station.

All seven orbital lab residents began Wednesday morning weighing themselves in microgravity. While the space environment renders objects and humans weightless, they still have mass. The crew uses a specialized device that applies a known force to a crew member and measures the resulting acceleration to accurately calculate their mass.

The international septet then split up for the rest of the day moving on to a variety of activities in preparation for upcoming spacewalks. Astronauts Loral O’Hara of NASA and Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) will exit the space station and swab station surfaces to determine the types of microbes that might survive the extreme conditions of outer space. They will be supported by fellow astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA and Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) who will assist the spacewalkers before, during, and after the scheduled six-hour excursion.

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub are also getting ready for a spacewalk together planned at the end of the month to install new hardware and deploy nanosatellites. The duo spent Wednesday morning studying the procedures planned for the six-hour and 45-minute spacewalk. After lunchtime, the Roscosmos flight engineers began collecting their spacesuit components and organizing spacewalking tools.

Amidst the spacewalk prep work today, O’Hara, Mogensen and Furukawa also took turns transferring cargo in and out of the Cygnus space freighter berthed to the Unity module’s Earth-facing port. Cygnus launched to the orbital outpost on Aug. 1, carrying food, fuel, supplies, and new science experiments to study gene therapy, atmospheric density, spacecraft fire safety, and more. The cargo craft from Northrop Grumman is due to end its mission and depart in December.

Cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov spent his day supporting life support and electronics maintenance. The first-time space flyer finalized a session of carbon dioxide monitoring and readied radiation detectors that will be worn on spacesuits on an upcoming spacewalk. He also charged camcorder batteries and reconfigured video cameras.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.