Nuking A Mouse, Or Removing An Entire Pump When You Can't Find Its Leak
On Saturday, May 11, astronauts Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn didn't so much MacGyver a solution as shotgun it--they just took out an entire offending piece of equipment.
Last week, astronauts spotted a cloud of tiny snowflakes mushrooming from the station's backbone, which you can see in this image. Engineers took photos and videos and realized they were ammonia flakes leaking from a pump. NASA decided to quickly schedule a spacewalk so the astronauts could fix it--this was precedent-setting in the history of the ISS, according to Norm Knight, NASA's chief flight director.
A little more than two and a half hours into the spacewalk, Cassidy and Marshburn removed the 260-pound pump controller box from the P6 truss and replaced it with a spare that had been stowed nearby, according to NASA.
There was no danger to the crew, but it's important to fix these pumps just in case another were to fail, which could jeopardize science experiments aboard the orbiting lab. So far, there are no signs of a new leak.