CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Astronauts making a rare, hastily planned spacewalk replaced a pump outside the International Space Station on Saturday in hopes of plugging a serious ammonia leak.
The prospects of success grew as the minutes passed and no frozen flecks of ammonia appeared. Mission Control said it appeared as though the leak might have been plugged, although additional monitoring over the coming days, if not weeks, will be needed before declaring a victory.
“No evidence of any ammonia leakage whatsoever. We have an airtight system — at the moment,” Mission Control reported.
Christopher Cassidy and Thomas Marshburn installed the new pump after removing the old one suspected of spewing flakes of frozen ammonia coolant two days earlier. They uncovered “no smoking guns” responsible for the leak and consequently kept a sharp lookout for any icy flecks that might appear from the massive frame that holds the solar panels on the left side.
“Let us know if you see anything,” Mission Control urged as the fresh pump was cranked up. Thirty minutes later, all was still well. “No snow,” the astronauts radioed.
“We have our eyes on it and haven’t seen a thing,” Marshburn said.