During the Friday (November 6) space walk on the exterior of the International Space Station, two NASA astronauts encountered a slight leakage of ammonia and received minor damage to the glove.
Ammonia used in the cooling system of the ISS, can be very toxic in case of flakes of substance inside the ISS. Fortunately, the proven decontamination procedures worked perfectly, and neither the workers in outer space nor the rest of the crew were in danger. The same procedure will be used today before the astronauts return inside the station.
Astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Scott Kelly spent 2 hours of the planned 6, 5 hours in open space, performing repairs in the cooling system. Three years ago, the station team was forced to perform unplanned spacewalks to stop ammonia leakage. A self-made plug was installed, and then the pump was replaced. But the improvised stub continued to remain until today, and one of the objectives of the Friday spacewalk was its removal.
During the opening and closing of valves in order to replenish ammonia reserves, Kelly and Lindren reported on noticed ammonia flakes flying apart in different directions from the place of work. During previous leaks, astronauts were simply ordered to remain outside the station until the Sun destroyed any traces of ammonia on their spacesuits. After the flight control center was convinced that enough time had passed and all hazardous substances had evaporated, they were allowed to return. In addition to ammonia leakage, Kelly reported minor damage to the glove: the seam was a little loose, and he noticed a thread loop sticking out of the material. After assessing the danger, the mission control center considered that the damage caused to the spacesuit was minimal and did not pose a threat to Kelly.
According to the Associated Press, other repairs included lubrication of the mechanical arm of the ISS and other “banal” tasks. At the time of this writing, work in outer space continued.
Kelly just celebrated his 224th day in orbit, which is a record for NASA astronauts. He arrived on the ISS last March and is due to leave in March 2016, completing a full year in space. Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko also participates in the annual experiment on the effect of long-term space flights on the human body.