Space station crew safe after failure of the oxygen supply system

Space station crew safe after failure of the oxygen supply system
Space station crew safe after failure of the oxygen supply system
Crew members aboard the International Space Station are dealing with a failed oxygen supply generator that is located in a Russian module. Fortunately, the astronauts and cosmonauts are in no danger, but this is now the second mistake recently involving a Russian component that could be cause for concern.

The faulty oxygen supply system is in the Russian Zvezda module and failed late yesterday, reports AFP. Sounds scary, but a second oxygen supply system on the US side works normally and provides the ISS crew with breathable air. Additionally, additional oxygen supplies will be stored on the ISS as an extra precaution.

The system failed on the same day that NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov arrived at the orbiting outpost, joining crew members Chris Cassidy, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. It is not clear whether the oxygen shortage had anything to do with their arrival, although it seems unlikely.

It is also not clear whether the failure of the Russian oxygen generation system had anything to do with an unsolved air leak. The latest word is that Roscosmos has finally tracked the source of the leak, which is somewhere in the Zvezda module, and mission engineers are currently preparing instructions for repairs, AFP reports. The air leak has been active since last year and is not considered a risk to the crew.

Regarding the failed oxygen generation system, a Roscosmos spokesman told AFP that “nothing” is currently threatening the crew and that repairs to the system should be made later today.

The state-run Russian news agency RIA Novosti reports that the failed system is an Electron-VM OGS. RIA Novosti quoted veteran Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka as saying, “All modules in the Russian segment are depleted,” noting that they rely on expired equipment that needs to be replaced.

Is NASA finally paying Russia to travel to space?

NASA has just turned over $ 90 million ($ 127) ($ 126) to the Russian space agency to help bring astronaut Kate Rubins to the International Space Station. Assuming trading partners can deliver, this could be the last time NASA buys a seat on a Soyuz spacecraft.

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The US side is equipped with an oxygen generation system that can support the current crew of six. It is part of an integrated network called the Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), which also includes water recovery and air revitalization. The system “produces oxygen for the air we breathe and replaces oxygen that is lost through experimental use, depressurization of the airlock, module leakage and carbon dioxide ventilation,” according to a NASA information sheet. Oxygen is produced by electrolysis to split oxygen from hydrogen. NASA’s ECLSS has been operating on the ISS since 2008.

This is a developing story and we will update this post as we learn more.

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