Sat, Nov 22, 2008
Astronauts Encounter Glitches With Waste Treatment System
Friday was a relatively light day for the combined STS-126 and
Expedition 18 crews onboard the International Space Station, as
the astronauts paused from their more tedious activities ahead
of a third planned spacewalk Saturday.
NASA reports the space shuttle and ISS crews worked on
transferring, assembling and testing hardware at the station
Friday. They also participated in a joint crew news conference.
Engineers are continuing to assess indications from sensors
within the Water Recovery System that caused the Urine Processor
Assembly to shut down during initial test operations Thursday and
again Friday morning.
The system uses a rotating distillation process to separate out
water from urine for further treatment. Sensors associated with the
motor of the centrifuge within the processor showed the speed of
the motor slowing and that the power the motor was using changed.
NASA hopes a bad sensor is the cause of the problem -- there are
spares onboard Endeavour -- and not a motor, which would need to be
flown to the station on a future supply mission.
Still, station commander Mike Fincke told The Associated Press
he wasn't surprised there were bugs in the brand-new system... and
reiterated he wouldn't balk at drinking the treated result once the
system was functioning normally. "It's just the water that's taken
out," Fincke said during the news conference. "It's really clean
and purified water. In fact, it's probably more pure than most
people's tap water. So I'm not afraid to drink it."
Mission specialists Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen will
camp out overnight in the station’s Quest Airlock in
preparation for the third spacewalk of the mission. The purpose of
this "camp out" is to purge the nitrogen from their bodies before
their planned exit Saturday at 1:45 pm EST.
Piper and mission specialist Shane Kimbrough completed the
mission’s second spacewalk Thursday,
as ANN reported.
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