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ISS ammonia pump 'working well'

At those prices, we should hope so

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The ISS's new ammonia pump module is "working well", according to NASA, as the agency prepares to return the orbiting outpost to "normal configuration for standard operations by Thursday".

It took spacewalkers Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Doug Wheelock three EVAs to swap out the failed unit, which died on 31 July and knocked out half of the station's cooling system.

NASA explains that this "Loop A" was repressurised on Monday and that a "quick data review of pump performance indicated no problems".

It adds: "To begin bringing the system fully back on line, Loop A was powered down Tuesday morning to allow Mission Specialist Shannon Walker to remove a contingency power jumper that had been routing cooling to systems from Loop B since July 31 when the pump module failed.

"Afterwards, flight controllers began the process of reactivating Loop A and the spare pump module to enable the continuation of systems reconfiguration. By 9:45 a.m. EDT* [13:45 GMT], the loop was up and running again."

Good news indeed, which just leaves the question: just how much did this plumbing job cost? Reg commenters have been pondering the matter, and one suggested: "Let's see, that's about 23 hours for two workers or 46 man hours. At the rate my plumber charges that would be $4600 plus parts. But I suppose the astronaut rate is a bit higher?"

Well yes, and one of the spacewalks was on a Sunday, which is going to up the rate a bit. In this case, though, since Caldwell Dyson and Wheelock were already on site, NASA didn't have to pay the call-out charge of $450m for an emergency space plumber shuttle launch. ®

Bootnote

* It's high time NASA stopped this irritating practice of using local timezones, especially its habit of switching between EDT or CDT or forgetting to mention which timezone it's referring to.

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