Cooling pump fails on International Space Station; six-man crew OK
December 12, 2013 -- Updated 1912 GMT (0312 HKT)
- NASA says the space station and crew were never in any danger
- A cooling pump shut down after hitting a temperature limit
- An emergency spacewalk could be necessary, but it's too soon to tell
(CNN) -- NASA scaled back operations on the International Space Station on Wednesday after discovering a problem with a cooling system.
A pump on one of the station's two external cooling loops shut down after hitting a temperature limit, NASA said.
Teams worked to get the cooling loop back up and running, NASA said. Experts suspect a malfunctioning valve may have caused the problem, but they're still trying to figure out how to fix it.
The station and crew aboard were never in any danger, NASA said.
Officials could determine that an emergency spacewalk is the best way to fix the failed pump -- something they've done in the past.
The crew of the space shuttle Atlantis took this picture of the International Space Station after leaving it in July 2011. Atlantis was the last shuttle to visit the station, which was first launched in 1998 and built by a partnership of 16 nations.
Photos: International Space Station
NASA said Thursday that there has been no decision on the spacewalk, and it may be a couple of days before the decision is made, according to Kenny Todd, the ISS mission management team chairman.
The external cooling loops are systems that circulate ammonia outside the station to keep equipment cool.
International Space Station Fast Facts
Officials discovered the malfunctioning loop was producing too much ammonia Wednesday morning, NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said.
Teams have shut down some noncritical systems on the station as a result of the problem, NASA said.
The space station's life support system is still up and running.
The current mission of the space station, officially called Expedition 38, is scheduled to go until March 2014.
The six-person crew consists of NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio of the United States; Russians Mikhail Tyurin, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Oleg Kotov; and Koichi Wakata of Japan.
CNN's Drew Iden contributed to this report.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 1929 GMT (0329 HKT)
Scientists are closer to seeing a vast, invisible universe as a spectrometer in Earth orbit picks up possible clues of dark matter.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
The Soviets sent stray dogs up to conquer space. This is what happened next
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0920 GMT (1720 HKT)
Scientists believe that a hot gas bubble was formed by multiple supernovas.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1547 GMT (2347 HKT)
Life aboard the International Space Station.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0153 GMT (0953 HKT)
NASA's New Horizons mission hurtles toward Pluto in historic 3 billion mile expedition.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 2044 GMT (0444 HKT)
After a 10-year chase the Rosetta spacecraft is now orbiting a comet
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2016 GMT (0416 HKT)
"Here comes the sun" indeed, and it was just barely all right.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
Seems NASA's fascination with the moon is in the past. It's focused on something far more menacing: incoming asteroids
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0356 GMT (1156 HKT)
Scientists looking for signs of life in the universe -- as well as another planet like our own -- are a lot closer to their goal than people realize.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1939 GMT (0339 HKT)
The U.S. Army brainchild "Project Horizon" was born. Its proposal to leap beyond the Soviets opened with the line: "There is a requirement for a manned military outpost on the moon."
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1943 GMT (0343 HKT)
From Earth, the sun appears as a constant circle of light, but when viewed in space a brilliant display of motion is revealed.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1731 GMT (0131 HKT)
The full moons of this summer -- July 12, August 10 and September 9 -- are supermoons, as NASA calls them.
June 29, 2014 -- Updated 1551 GMT (2351 HKT)
If you think you saw a flying saucer over Hawaii, you might not be crazy -- except what you saw didn't come from outer space, though that may be its ultimate destination.
June 27, 2014 -- Updated 0147 GMT (0947 HKT)
The U.S. space shuttle program retired in 2011, leaving American astronauts to hitchhike into orbit. But after three long years, NASA's successor is almost ready to make an entrance.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)
When I first poked my head inside Virgin Galactic's newest spaceship, I felt a little like I was getting a front-row seat to space history.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 2303 GMT (0703 HKT)
The sun is putting on a fireworks show again.
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 2302 GMT (0702 HKT)
A year is a very long time on Mars -- 687 days. NASA's Curiosity rover can attest that it's enough time for some unexpected life changes.
May 2, 2014 -- Updated 1800 GMT (0200 HKT)
At least one corner of the solar system may be serving up an ice-and-water sandwich, with the possibility of life on the rocks.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
You can't see it happening on Earth, but space itself is stretching. Ever since the Big Bang happened 13.8 billion years ago, the universe has been getting bigger.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
From a sheep ranch in Western Australia comes the oldest slice of Earth we know.