False leaked ammonia alarm at the International Space Station causes US astronauts to shelter in the Russian section
Russian federal space agency Roscosmos and US space agency NASA are maintaining constant contact after a false alarm triggered an emergency situation at the $100 billion space outpost, the International Space Station (ISS), Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Wednesday during a telecommunications meeting.
US astronauts took shelter most of the day in Russia’s modules after an ammonia leak alarm.
The meeting was convened among ISS crew onboard, Roscosmos, NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) to keep abreast of the latest development at the space station.
An alarm at about 4 a.m. EST (0900 GMT) indicated a possible ammonia leak in the U.S. part of the ISS, triggering evacuation of astronauts to the Russian section of the orbital outpost, a research laboratory that flies about 260 miles (418 km) above Earth.
After the alarm, the astronauts put on masks, moved to the Russian side and closed hatches between the modules. Later they returned to the US lab, but evacuated a second time after rising air pressure indicated a threat might still be present.
The alarms later turned out to be false.
The latest blog posted on official NASA website showed that the crew was allowed by ISS mission management team to return to the US segment.
Flight controllers are continuing to analyze data to clarify what triggered the alarm, according to NASA.
Roscosmos has confirmed that the Russian segment was safe from air pollution, while a representative of the Mission Control in Russia’s city of Korolyov explained that there is enough room and supplies for all six crew members in the Russia segment.
Each segment of the ISS is designed to contain everything needed to support the entire ISS crew, Interfax news agency quoted the representative as saying.
ISS crew currently consists of two Americans, one Italian and three Russians.
The ISS, the 15-nation laboratory, which flies at an altitude of about 260 miles (420 km), is overseen by Russia and the United States but the only way to reach it is by using Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. The ability to launch crews into orbit from the US ended with Nasa’s shuttle program in 2011.
The United States currently pays Russia more than $60 million per person to fly its astronauts up.