Crew Safe After Reports of Smoke on the Space Station
Image: A view of the shuttle's payload bay wi
July 15, 2011 --
The final space shuttle mission (STS-135) to the International Space Station (ISS) continues. Supplies have been delivered by shuttle Atlantis and the final "shuttle era" spacewalk has been successfully completed. Here are a selection of photographs from the busy ISS since Atlantis docked with the orbital outpost on July 10.
While Atlantis was docked to the space station, a member of the STS-135 crew snapped this picture of some of the islands in the Bahamas, off the coast of the Florida peninsula (right). Miami can be seen toward the top right of the photograph. Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center are located out of shot in the bottom right of the photo.
Welcomed... Fruit? Shortly after docking with the space station, the Atlantis crew (including STS-135 pilot Doug Hurley, left) gave the resident space station crew supplies of fresh food. With a smile, Expedition 28 flight engineer Mike Fossum (right) receives a bag of fruit.
While aboard the space station, the STS-135 crew are working on many tasks during their short stay. STS-135 commander Chris Ferguson (right) can be seen here working with Japanese astronaut and Expedition 28 flight engineer Satoshi Furukawa in the Quest airlock inspecting space suits assigned to NASA astronauts Mike Fossum and Ron Garan prior to the July 12 spacewalk.
Say "Cheese"! During the six and a half hour spacewalk to retrieve a failed ammonia pump module from an external storage platform and install a robotic refueling demonstration apparatus, NASA astronaut Mike Fossum takes a picture while Atlantis is docked behind him. Fossum can be seen restrained on the end of the space station remote manipulator system (Canadarm2).
Mike Fossum points at the camera as he waits at an International Space Station pressurized mating adapter (PMA-2) docked to the space shuttle Atlantis, as the station's robotic system moves the failed ammonia pump module (out of frame) over to the spacewalking astronaut and the shuttle's cargo bay.
Robotic Assistance Mike Fossum, while attached to Canadarm2, holds the Robotics Refueling Mission payload -- one of the main tasks to be carried out during the spacewalk. The failed pump module can be seen with the two-armed robot, Dextre, on left side of the photo.
Shuttle Stowage With his feet secured to Canadarm2, NASA astronaut Ron Garan carries the failed ammonia pump module toward shuttle Atlantis' open payload bay. When Atlantis returns to Earth on July 21, engineers will study the module to see how it failed and how the problem can be avoided in the future.
In addition to installing/removing space station hardware, STS-135 delivered up to a years-worth of supplies. STS-135 mission specialist Sandy Magnus can be seen here floating inside the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module that Atlantis carried to the space station. Magnus is surrounded by the supplies for consumption of the space station residents for the months ahead.
A Picnic, Shuttle Style Seven astronauts -- six from NASA and one from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) -- and three Russian cosmonauts participate in a special meal on the Space Shuttle Atlantis' middeck on July 14. The STS-135 crew consists of NASA astronauts Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim; the Expedition 28 or station crew members are JAXA astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, NASA astronauts Ron Garan and Mike Fossum, and Russian cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev and Sergei Volkov. All photographs can be found in NASA's Human Spaceflight Gallery.
There are few fears worse than having to confront a fire incident inside a pressurized space vehicle in microgravity orbiting 230 miles above Earth, so there’s little doubt that when the International Space Station crew reported smelling smoke late on Tuesday, concern would have been high.
But fortunately, through the professional response of the astronauts and cosmonauts in space and the rapid response of mission controllers on the ground, the source of the smoke was quickly identified before there was any threat to the six-man crew.
“In line with standard protocol, flight controllers at mission control in Houston followed emergency procedures to isolate the Russian segment ventilation system,” NASA said in a statement. “Expedition 40 commander Steve Swanson reported that the smoke quickly subsided and the crew was not in any danger.”
The source of the smoke was the Water Dispensing and Heating Unit, which is used for water reclamation purposes and is located in the Russian Zvezda service module. The unit was powered down, removed and replaced with a spare. As reported by the Associated Press, there was a similar problem in 2009.
Emergency procedures were put in place and any remaining smoke contamination was quickly removed by Zvezda’s air scrubbers.
After removal, the crew inspected the faulty unit but didn’t find anything “off nominal,” so investigations will be ongoing as to why the unit started producing smoke.
With this smokey hiccup behind them, operations on board the ISS continue as normal. The crew are even looking forward to cheering on their teams during down time as the soccer World Cup kicks off today in Brazil. NASA astronauts Swanson and Reid Wiseman, and German astronaut Alexander Gerst will also have the chance to watch their two nations compete against one another during the Group G match between the USA and Germany on June 26 — a match that will be streamed live into orbit and no doubt will spark some friendly rivalry.