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NASA closer to locating small leak in International Space Station after months-long search

NASA and the Russian space agency are closer to locating an air leak in the Zvezda Service...
NASA and the Russian space agency are closer to locating an air leak in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station.(NASA)
Updated: Sep. 29, 2020 at 2:51 PM CDT
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(KLTV) - NASA has isolated a persistent air leak in the International Space Station to the main work area of the Zvezda Service Module, the space agency announced Tuesday. For months, the Expedition 63 crew and ground teams have been analyzing data to locate the precise source of an increased air leak at the orbiting complex.

Monday night, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner were awakened by flight controllers to take pressure measurements throughout the Russian segment of the station. Crew members closed hatches throughout the service module while collecting readings and inspecting windows, seals, and valves.

Similar leak checks have been conducted in the U.S., European, and Japanese modules since late August. Efforts have also involved isolating the station’s inhabitants in various modules to monitor leak rates.

Changes in cabin pressure were first detected in September 2019, according to NASA.

“Because of routine station operations like spacewalks and spacecraft arrivals and departures, it took time to gather enough data to characterize those measurements. That rate has slightly increased, so the teams are working a plan to isolate, identify and potentially repair the source.”

Despite the leak appearing to grow in size in recent days, a news release stated it “poses no immediate danger to the crew at the current leak rate and only a slight deviation to the crew’s schedule.”

Cassidy, the station’s current commander, tweeted a similar assessment last week.

“No harm or risk to us as the crew, but it is important to find the leak we are not wasting valuable air.”

The Russian-built Zvezda module was launched in July 2000 and provides living quarters, life support systems, electrical power distribution, data processing systems, flight control systems and propulsion systems. The 43-foot-long element also features a docking port for visiting Russian spacecraft.

The station’s last high-profile air leak was in 2018, when a small hole was discovered in the orbital module of the Soyuz MS-00 spacecraft.

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