A pump on one of the station’s external cooling loops automatically shut down after reaching a pre-set temperature limit, NASA said in an official statement. CNN reported that the faulty loop was producing too much ammonia, which is circulated in the space station to keep equipment cool.
"The crew was always safe and will work with the ground teams as they figure out what caused the issue,” NASA’s Johnson Space Centre announced in a tweet.
Nonetheless, the ground teams have moved some electrical systems to the other loop and shut down some non-critical systems. They are also investigating if the failure is a software or hardware issue.
A spacewalk might be performed to repair the malfunctioning loop, which is something that had been done by NASA before. However, it might be too early to tell if a spacewalk would be necessary.
U.S. spacewalks were suspended after Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano nearly drowned in space as his helmet was filled with water in July.
The crew at the International Space station now consists of six members: Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio of the United States; Mikhail Tyurin, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Oleg Kotov of Russia; andKoichi Wakata of Japan.
SOURCES: CNN, NASA, CBS, LA Times