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Space Station Crew Safe After Oxygen Supply System Failure

The International Space Station

The International Space Station
Photo: NASA

Crew members aboard the International Space Station communicate with a failed oxygen supply generator located inside a Russian module. Fortunately, astronauts and cosmonauts are not at risk, but this is the second recent glitch involving a Russian element, which could cause concern.

The non-functioning oxygen supply system is located inside the Russian Zvezda module and it came out yesterday, reports The AFP. It sounds scary, but the second oxygen supply system located on the US side works normally and provides air breathing for ISS personnel. Moreover, excess oxygen supplies are stored on the ISS as an additional precaution.

The system failed the same day as NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov has arrived at the orbiting outpost, joining crewmembers Chris Cassidy, Anatoly Ivanishin, and Ivan Vagner. It is not clear whether oxygen failure is related to their arrival, although that seems unlikely.

It is also unclear whether Russia’s development of the oxygen system has anything to do with it insoluble air leakage. Latest word is that Roscosmos has finally tracked the source of the leak, which is in a part of the Zvezda module, and mission engineers are currently preparing instructions for repairs, the AFP reports. . Air leakage has been active since last year and is not considered a hazard to personnel.

Regarding the failed oxygen generation system, a Roscosmos spokesperson told AFP that “nothing” is currently threatening staff, and repairs to the system should happen later today.

State-owned Russian news agency RIA Novosti is reporting that the failed system is an Electron-VM OGS. RIA Novosti quoted Russian veteran cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who said: “All Russian segment modules are exhausted,” note that they rely on expired equipment in need of replacement.

The US side is equipped with an oxygen generation system capable of supporting the current crew of six. It is part of an integrated network, called the Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), which also includes water recovery and air resuscitation. The system “produces oxygen for breathing air, as well as replacing oxygen lost as a result of experimental use, airlock depressurization, module leakage, and carbon dioxide venting,” according to a NASA fact sheet. Oxygen is formed by using electrolysis to divide oxygen from hydrogen. NASA’s ECLSS has been operating on the ISS since 2008.

This is an emerging story, and we will update this post as we learn more.

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