Faulty Space Suit Repaired by ISS Crew

Faulty Space Suit Repaired by ISS Crew
Astronaut Michael Fincke, Expedition 9 NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer, works with the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuits in the Quest airlock of the International Space Station. (Image credit: NASA/JSC.)

The crew of the International Space Station (ISS) has apparently fixed one of two malfunctioning space suits plagued with cooling system problems.

NASA astronaut Michael Fincke, ISS Expedition 9 science officer and flight engineer, repaired the U.S. space suit after a series of troubleshooting efforts to restore it and second suit to service. Both space suits were pulled from operational status in May when the cooling system malfunction was first detected.

"Today was a very nice success," Fincke told ground controllers after checking his repair work today. "Good job."

Fincke spent 4.5 hours Monday replacing a rotor pump in the U.S.-built space suit, called an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), then followed his work with several hours of checks today to make sure the repair was effective.

The pump was one of many replacement parts that arrived at the ISS last week aboard the Progress 15 supply ship. During normal operations, the rotor pump is responsible for circulating water through miles tubing inside a space suit undergarment that keeps astronauts cool during spacewalks, NASA ISS officials said, adding that the repair job also potentially creates a complement of two operating U.S. space suits on the station.

That's welcome news for the Fincke and Expedition 9 commander Gennady Padalka, as well as future ISS occupants. With their U.S. space suits inoperable, the Expedition 9 crew resorted to Russian-built Orlan spacesuits to perform maintenance on a U.S. segment of the space station during a June 30 spacewalk, work the Orlan suits were not originally designed for.

The space suit fix is not Fincke's only success story this week. The busy astronaut also replaced canisters in the space station's resistive exercise device, which uses tension to simulate weight lifting, bringing the equipment back to normal operations.

"It's been a day of good news for the astronauts in orbit and the International Space Station today," a NASA ISS commentator said today.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com 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 Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, 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 Space.com 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.