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.