Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Breaking: NASA orders series of urgent spacewalks

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA has ordered up a series of urgent spacewalks to fix a broken cooling line at the International Space Station.

Station managers decided Tuesday to send two American astronauts out as soon as possible to replace a pump with a bad valve. It's a major job that will require three spacewalks — Saturday, Monday and next Wednesday on Christmas Day.

"The next week will be busy with space walks so not much tweeting from here," NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio tweeted from space soon after the decision was announced.

The spacewalks are taking priority over the launch of a supply ship from Virginia. The commercial delivery had been scheduled for this week, but is now delayed until at least mid-January.

Half of the station's cooling system shut down last Wednesday, forcing the six-man crew to turn off all nonessential equipment, including some science experiments. Because of the valve failure, one of the two cooling lines became too cold.

The space station cooling system, which runs ammonia through the lines, is critical for dispelling heat generated by on-board equipment.

While the astronauts are safe and comfortable, NASA wants the system back up to full strength, in case of another failure that could leave the orbiting outpost even more vulnerable than it is right now.

NATO Black Hawk crashes - attacked by militants - six killed.

NBC NEWS: KABUL - Six U.S. soldiers serving with the NATO International Security Assistance Force were killed when their Sikorsky UH-60 'Black Hawk' helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan Tuesday, officials said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, NATO said in a statement, but a senior U.S. defense official said the aircraft had a hard landing due to mechanical problems and was attacked by militants after it went down.

NATO did not disclose the nationalities of the victims but the U.S. official said they were American.

There were no reports of enemy fire in the area the when helicopter went down, the NATO statement added.

The helicopter crashed in the Shahjoi district of the Zabul province, according to its deputy governor Mohammad Jan Rasulyar.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin