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ISS NASA Space Technology

Smooth, 6.5 Hour Spacewalk To Fix ISS Ammonia Pump 90

Posted by timothy
from the easy-peasy-space-is-breezy dept.
The ISS crew can breathe a little easier now; the NY Times reports that the ammonia pump repair that the station has needed has now been partly completed, and in less time than expected. More work is scheduled, but, says The Times: "The astronauts, Col. Michael S. Hopkins of the Air Force and Richard A. Mastracchio, were far ahead of schedule throughout the spacewalk as they detached tubing and electrical connectors from the pump. They were able to remove the 780-pound module and move it to a temporary storage location, a task that had been scheduled for a second spacewalk on Monday. ... Colonel Hopkins and Mr. Mastracchio stepped out of an airlock at 7:01 a.m. Eastern time, and even though they accomplished more than they had set out to do, they were able to return at 12:29 p.m., an hour earlier than had been scheduled. The two encountered few complications." Ars Technica has video, too.
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Smooth, 6.5 Hour Spacewalk To Fix ISS Ammonia Pump

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  • by PPH (736903) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @04:38PM (#45755807)

    As everyone knows, all projects involve several trips to Home Depot for the odd tool or bolt that was overlooked in the initial planning stage.

    • As everyone knows, all projects involve several trips to Home Depot for the odd tool or bolt that was overlooked in the initial planning stage.

      That's what made this newsworthy.
      Of course, they said "few" problems. I'm wondering if one of those problems was ending up with extra bolts at the end that don't match up to any of the empty spots....

      • by nickserv (1974794) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @05:09PM (#45755993)

        I'm wondering if one of those problems was ending up with extra bolts at the end that don't match up to any of the empty spots....

        I used to do this as a kid with old typewriters dad would bring home for me to take apart and put back together. There would usually be parts left over at the end but because everything still worked dad said I had made the machines "more efficient."

        And yea, the lack of interest in space even amongst the geek community is appalling.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by ColdWetDog (752185)

          I used to do this as a kid with old typewriters dad would bring home for me to take apart and put back together. There would usually be parts left over at the end but because everything still worked dad said I had made the machines "more efficient."

          I used to do this when I was racing motorcycles. It was called 'adding lightness'.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I know it's a nitpick, but isn't 7:01 a.m. - 12:29 p.m. more like 5.5 hours? I understand that they were an hour faster than planned (meaning they planned 6.5 hours) but the title seems a bit off nonetheless...

    • by Vulch (221502)

      What counts as the start and end point of an EVA varies depending on what Agency is reporting it and who wrote the press release. The start can be anything from the start of decompression, reaching vacuum, opening the hatch or stepping outside, and the end stepping back in, closing the hatch, starting recompression or returning to atmospheric pressure in the airlock. In this case it's 5.5 hours outside, but there will have been more time spent inside but in vacuum at the start checking the suits are working

    • by PNutts (199112) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @06:45PM (#45756557)

      I know it's a nitpick, but isn't 7:01 a.m. - 12:29 p.m. more like 5.5 hours? I understand that they were an hour faster than planned (meaning they planned 6.5 hours) but the title seems a bit off nonetheless...

      Considering the ISS orbits the earth about every 90 minutes, it was more like 3 days and an hour.

      Nickpick +5

    • by quenda (644621)

      Rookie mistake. You forgot to allow for daylight savings time.

  • I smell a conspiracy. No WAY government workers finish ahead of schedule, unless it's for breaks, lunch or end of day.

    • Naw, man, that's the Depends that you smell. And no shower on the other end - talk about a motivator.

      • by Jeremi (14640)

        Naw, man, that's the Depends that you smell. And no shower on the other end - talk about a motivator.

        That's not even the worst of it. From the article:

        The astronauts also had improvised snorkels made out of plastic tubing and Velcro, extending from their helmets down into the chest area of the spacesuit. If water encroached, the tube would allow them to breathe air from the lower part of the suit.

        "Dutch oven" doesn't even begin to cover it.

    • by crutchy (1949900)

      No WAY government workers finish ahead of schedule, unless it's for breaks, lunch or end of day

      ...or spending tax payer money!

  • "ISS crew breathing easier with Ammonia freely flowing".

    Well, funnier anyway.

  • Why store it? Why not just give it a good push away from the station earthwards?

    • Failure analysis. Didn't you see '2001'?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Ammonia".... Howard f-ed up the space-loo again...

  • by guygo (894298)
    These guys are amazing. Well done! Working without gravity to help you is quite an amazing trick for Earth-based monkeys. I am always greatly impressed by the training and skills of all these people who actually climb out of their tin can into open space. More than anyone I think they fit the spirit of the 50s and 60s "astronaut" image. Excelsior!
  • by rossdee (243626) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @06:28PM (#45756459)

    If you're walking in space and its bumpy then you have a big problem

  • by BringsApples (3418089) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @06:49PM (#45756583)
    The space station travels at roughly 17,500 MPH. They're working in (this is per the folks that make the suits) anywhere from -100F to +235F. Good job guys. It really takes a lot of people to crunch numbers and possibilities of failure, what to do if failure occurs, and how to do all of this within certain time restrictions. If mankind can claim any sort of technical achievements (I know most here would like to boast their computer skillz), this, in my mind, is a fine example of folks working together at far distances, and through many challenges. Bravo guys and gals!
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The space station travels at roughly 17,500 MPH.

      Everything in the cosmos is traveling at roughly 17,500 MPH if you pick the right point of reference for each body.

      • Don't get me started. I'll go 17,500 MPH, using your FACE as reference! :)

        But you have a good point. Who can say where in space something is moving zero MPH. Still, I say that these astronauts do things that aren't looked at as astonishing, but should be.
  • I'm sure there are plenty of reasons, but why does the ISS use a complicated ammonia-based refrigeration system? I had always assumed they just dumped the waste heat into space with something akin to the heat sink in my computer.
    • Re:I'm curious... (Score:5, Informative)

      by cbhacking (979169) <been_out_cruisin ... NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Saturday December 21, 2013 @07:49PM (#45756893) Homepage Journal

      The heat sink in your computer would be pretty miserable at dumping waste heat into space. Terrestrial heat sinks typically heat into a fluid, such as the air that your computer's fans blow across the heat sink.

      Problem: there is no air (or anything else into which heat may be transferred) in space. Radiative cooling - that is to say, releasing infrared radiation - does occur, but it is *far* slower that conductive cooling. To do that effectively, though, you want a big, hot surface area that is shadowed from all other heat sources in the region (that big fusion reactor the Earth orbits counts as "in the region" here).

      To cool an artificial satellite effectively, especially a big one like ISS, you use a heat transfer system (in this case, they apparently use ammonia) to concentrate the heat into radiative cooling surfaces on the shadowed side of the station. This system definitely adds complexity, not to mention generating a bit of heat itself(entropy always increases), but without it, the side of the station facing the sun would cook, and the shadowed side wouldn't get hot enough for effective radiative cooling.

      • I realized after I posted that I'd forgotten the whole "a heat sink needs a medium to transfer the heat to" part. I appreciate the cogent explanation, though. my knowledge of the intricacies of spaceflight basically stops at Kerbal Space Program.
        • by cbhacking (979169)

          In fairness, the radiator fins used on spacecraft are kind of like a terrestrial heat sink. There's no fans or anything like them, of course, but the basic concept of moving heat from the part that doesn't want to get too toasty to the part that is designed to accept all that heat and release it into the environment is much the same. The ammonia refrigeration system is required to achieve the actual moving and concentrating of the heat in the radiators, and (unlike the heat sink on a CPU) those radiators wi

    • There is nothing in the vacuum..so there is a specific heat of roughly 0.

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