NASA to use spacesuit that almost drowned astronaut to conduct ISS repairs
HOUSTON - Astronauts will use the same suit that almost drowned astronaut Luca Parmitano to repair a malfunctioning cooling loop on the International Space Station, according to NASA spokesman Josh Byerly.
“No one is happy about it, but it’s the best choice of some really bad options,” said a source privy to NASA operations.
NASA mission managers have scheduled three spacewalks, or EVAs, to fix the malfunctioning cooling loop, with the dates now set for Dec. 21st, 23rd and 25th.
Mission managers decided to use the suit because NASA has replaced some of the leaky units—the fan pump separator, in particular—in Parmitano’s old suit, called EMU 3011.
Astronaut Rick Mastracchio posted this image of EMU 3011 inside the Quest airlock Tuesday via his Twitter account.
NASA has reported the replacements have yielded mixed results, with the suit still demonstrating the leaking problem during one test. However, the suit recently passed water leak check tests, according to NASA SpaceFlight.com.
“We're taking an educated, small risk and mitigating the risk as much as possible,” said the source.
The source said that the suit could not seriously endanger an astronaut because NASA can get the astronaut back into the airlock long before the helmet could become completely waterlogged.
If astronauts can't complete repairs by Dec. 29th, they'll have to wait until Jan. 7 before conducting another spacewalk because the ISS will enter a section of its orbit that would expose the astronauts to excessive solar rays, called a beta cut-out.
NASA currently has three space suits available to conduct the EVAs. Byerly said there have been no reported losses in science data since the cooling loop failed.
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