Space Station Commander Finds Missing Air Scrubbers

Space Station Commander Finds Missing Air Scrubbers
Expedition 12 commander Bill McArthur (left) poses with a U.S.-built Extravehicular Mobility Unit while Valery Tokarev shows off Russian Orlan spacesuit while explaining spacewalks aboard the International Space Station. (Image credit: NASA/JSC.)

NASAastronaut Bill McArthur has found a set of missing Russian spacesuit air scrubbersduring a weekend search aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the agency said Monday.

McArthur,who commands the ISSExpedition 12 mission, discovered the four lithium hydroxide canisters -which are used to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere of Russian-builtOrlan spacesuits during spacewalks - on Saturday during an off-duty search,NASA said.

The missingcanisters were tucked behind a panel inside the space station's Russian-builtZvezda service module. Without them, the ISS astronauts would have not beenable to use Orlan spacesuits, which are tailored for work outside the station'sRussian-built segments, until additional lithium hydroxide units arrived aboardan automated cargo ship in mid-April.

McArthur'sfind came days after NASAcleared a handrail issue that had barred spacewalks in U.S.-builtspacesuits for about one month. With the handrail issue clear and the missingair scrubbers now found, McArthur and Expedition 12 flight engineer ValeryTokarev have regained full spacewalk capabilities aboard the ISS, if needed.

Nospacewalks are currently planned for the remainder of the Expedition 12 crew'smission. McArthur and Tokarev are slated to returnto Earth on April 8.

Theirreplacements, Expedition13 commander Pavel Vinogradov and flight engineer Jeffrey Williams, willlaunch toward the ISS with Brazilian astronaut MarcosPontes at on March 29 at 9:30 p.m. EST (0230 GMT). Pontes will return toEarth with the Expedition 12 astronauts.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.