Astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) will attempt to fix the craft’s broken cooling system during a series of three spacewalks in the coming days, NASA has announced.
The agency said it would delay a cargo resupplying mission until after the spacewalks, which are scheduled from Dec. 21 to Dec. 25, the agency announced Tuesday.
The cooling system began experiencing problems last week, when it shut down in response to low temperatures. Officials warned at the time that a spacewalk might be necessary to fix it.
The plan is for NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins to remove a pump with a failed valve and replace it with a spare that is currently stored on an “external stowage platform,” the agency said.
“The pump is associated with one of the station’s two external cooling loops, which circulate ammonia outside the station to keep both internal and external equipment cool,” NASA said in its announcement.
Judd Frieling, lead flight director of the current ISS expedition, describes the problem in more detail in this video.
The Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus spacecraft resupply mission will be delayed until “no earlier than mid-January,” NASA said. The agency will provide more details about the spacewalks Wednesday at a preview briefing from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.