Feeds

back to article Hot Stuff! NASA mulls 'urgent' space walk as ISS cooler conks out

NASA has ordered a partial shutdown of the International Space Station after one of the two cooling systems stopping the astronauts broiling stopped working unexpectedly. The ISS has two ammonia-based cooling loops placed outside the orbiting station that suck out the heat generated by equipment and personnel. On Wednesday one …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Gold badge

Have they cleared the space suits to work, after nearly drowning that Italian guy? Or will it only be Russians allowed to go for walkies?

It's either that, or look in the Yellow Dwarf Pages for a plumber... But I hear the call-out fees are horrific.

3
0

NASA still doesn't know the cause of the malf. So Russians only.

0
0
Silver badge

Linkages

There's in-depth info at http://www.spaceflight101.com/space-station-encounters-thermal-control-system-failure.html

@iss101 is a NASA account tweeting updates, and you can view the current telemetry at http://spacestationlive.jsc.nasa.gov/displays/spartanDisplay2.html

1
0
Coat

Just asking

Have they tried turning it off and on again?

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Just asking

They're halfway there.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Just asking

Proper protocol demands whacking with a hammer or other suitable heavy object first....

2
0
Bronze badge

whacking with a hammer

You mean 'percussive maintenance'

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Just asking

This is NASA, so its not that simple. First they have to make the hammer using the 3D printer, and then whack the cooling system with it, being aware of course of Newtons 3rd law of motion, otherwise you will have Gravity 2 : the sequel.

1
0

It's getting hot in here

Opening a few windows cools down my caravan in the sun.

3
0
Alien

Desperate for attention

Don’t the Chinese have a robotic armada on the way to the moon at the moment? You don’t hear much about it though.

0
1

Re: Desperate for attention

Their spacecraft is in Lunar orbit right now. They had said that they would be attempting a landing today.

1
0
Silver badge

DIY in space

Well who else is going to do it? It's a bit of a long trek to get a repair man in.

0
0
Silver badge

Do the pipes go....

'nurieek', 'rotut', 'hernunger'?

6
0
Silver badge

Re: Do the pipes go....

And in the right order!

1
0
Joke

Re: Do the pipes go....

Well, they *were*, and that was fine. "squeelookle" was what raised their concern.

0
0

I'd check for unexpected Sandra Bullocks in the airlock area ...

3
0
Bronze badge
Trollface

Re: Sandra Bullock - to be fair, the ISS would fit perfectly in the "Speed" series - "WE HAVE TO KEEP DRIVING IN CIRCLES! They told us if we got below seven kilometers per second, WE'RE ALL GONNA DIEEEE!"

3
0
Bronze badge
Alien

DADDY COOL!!!

Instead of Ammonia, why don't they just pump in some James Brown?

1
0
Go

Re: DADDY COOL!!!

Or some Boney M.

1
0
Silver badge

Bah!

So ... the ISS does not have any sort of parasol for passive cooling? Like a shirtload of solar panels? Or a mylar sheet?

No doubt there's a really clever reason why that isn't part of the design.

1
0
Bronze badge
Alien

Re: Bah!

Is that what you've got on yours Stevie? I bet you've got "Go Faster" stripes and a "Turbo" on yours as well haven't you?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Bah!

A parasol worked for Skylab.... except that it didn't.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Bah!

Well, yes, but it did, sorta. SKYLABs problems stemmed from a failure of half its solar array to deploy properly. AS I recall the parasol was not deployed as envisaged and even so did have a measurable effect on keeping the wretched tin can inhabitable.

Aren't NASA claiming that blocking the sun with mylar could reduce global warming? It just seems to me that you need a *lot* less mylar to stop ISS warming, or at least slow it down. I mean, that's why they sent people to the moon in lunar twilight. If you block the sun a major heating problem simply goes away - that's why they "barbecued" Apollo spacecraft.

It also seems to me that if you are putting kit into orbit where tools, raw materials and manpower are at a premium, passive solutions to problems are inherently better than active ones, especially active measures with moving parts.

0
0

Re: Bah!

The ISS - and other spacecraft - have several thermal regulation challenges. First, the ISS gets loads of direct sunlight for part of its orbit. Second, the other part of its orbit is spent in darkness but, in the universe's biggest Thermos bottle, passive cooling through even un-insulated space station walls would not be rapid. Third, regardless of the exterior heat input, the ISS has tens of kilowatts of equipment and human metabolisms dumping heat into the interior.

The standard practice for spacecraft (and space suit) designers is to take charge of exterior heat loads by loading up on insulation, slowing down the intrusion of exterior heat. Then, usually, you only need to worry about cooling rather than both heating and cooling. (This doesn't work perfectly; space suits have recently added hand and feet warmers for extended operation in shadow. But insulation is still a useful first step toward gaining control of spacecraft temperatures.) The reflective aluminum and white insulation on the hull of the ISS also helps resist exterior heat input. The layering of a reflective hull and insulation is a parasol of sorts.

You can add a further parasol to shade the hull, like the emergency measure used on Skylab, but ISS makes that difficult by stringing out its modules into a complicated jumble that also changes its angle with respect to the sun throughout orbit. (ISS can be stabilized with respect to the sun if need be.) You'd thus need a lot of parasols, unless you wanted one big one that would probably at least partly shade the solar panels. It's easier to add more insulation, though. Multi-layer vacuum insulation is fantastically effective stuff.

Once you're done with the parasols, though, you have the issue of internal heating. The ISS uses an average of (if I recall correctly) about 35kW at any time, with its solar arrays making up to 125kW available. NASA addressed that heat load by telling the astronauts to shut down a lot of electrical equipment (e.g., experiments), leaving the minimum on.

It couldn't really do much about the ~1kW per occupant, though, not without getting lawyers and astronauts rights activists involved.

Anyway, when you're buried under all that insulation and have seized control of heat loads, you still need a way to get the heat out. That's where the radiators and circulating ammonia come in, at least until a valve sticks. Most manned spacecraft have used a similar approach of insulation and radiators: the shuttle's bay doors were lined with radiators while the shuttle was wrapped in insulation. Capsules tended to use heat pipes and insulation, and heat control measures like the Apollo "barbecue roll."

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Bah!

Well, yes, except that I was envisioning a parasol only a few feet from the hull proper as an auxiliary measure, not the *only* one. No doubt there's a clever reason why having one attached to each module isn't a good idea since "if you can't block all the sun you shouldn't block any of it" seems a bit ... stupid to be honest.

I'm well aware that the electronics dump heat into the interior and that the humans dump heat (and water and CO2) into the air too. None of that is made any easier to deal with by the lack of any passive cooling measures like putting something between the skin of the various modules and the incident sunlight.

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.