Half of the International Space Station cooling system suddenly shuts down. Saturday night, July 31, one of the two ammonia powered cooling loops shut down on the International Space Station’s cooling system. This resulted in the six occupant astronauts, three Americans and three Russians, having to power down the equipment. They now face urgent spacewalk repairs. It is stressed that the occupants are in no danger. Sunday, NASA managers approved a pair of spacewalks to be conducted later this week. One of which will take place Thursday, August 5, this spacewalk was already scheduled for maintenance and now will just require additional repairs than the typical chores. These excursions will involve replacing the ammonia pump. A difficult task.
This problem seems minimal to others that space stations of the past have encountered. The world’s second space station was launched in April of 1973. It was called the Salyut 2. It lasted in space less than two weeks, because it’s engine exploded. This space station lost control and crashed on Earth in May. No cosmonauts were on board.
In May of 1973, a secret space station meant for providing spy photos of the ground it flew over, the Cosmos 557, went out of control and burned up. This forced the Soviets to begin designing more reliable engines.
The third crew of the first United States space station, the Skylab, were in orbit for 84 days. This length of mission left the crew too weak to stand, because of the effects of being in space. They would not had been able to escape in there had been a landing emergency. This resulted in exercise equipment to be required for all long term space missions. The Skylab was abandoned in February 1974.
In 1982 the Salyut 7 that was launched had numerous problems. There was power failure, leaky water pipes, and broken radios. Solar panels and chemical batteries were added and the water pipes were fixed, but they ran into another problem. The sun was in a cycle of increased activity, causing the Earth’s atmosphere to get hotter and expand. The atmosphere ran into the Salyut 7, so the Soviets went into a higher orbit. This used too much fuel on system that had already been operating longer than expected and in 1986 the station was abandoned. In fell over Argentina in 1991.
So though our ISS is having a few problems, it is not crashing into Earth, losing control, leaving it’s occupants too weak to stand, or in need of being abandoned.
Associated Press; Marcia Dunn; “Space station cooling system suddenly shuts down”