WASHINGTON — NASA officials on Friday postponed a planned spacewalk to repair the International Space Station to today after a quarter-inch space debris was sighted on the station’s airlock.
Naval Flight Patterns Coordination at the Johnson Space Center in Houston advised of the sighting of debris in the station’s Airlock A. That maneuver had been aborted before it occurred, apparently because it would have created a hazard of it moving closer and closer toward the station.
Because the debris came from within the station, it can remain there and cause serious damage, the Space Agency said in a statement Friday.
“No permanent damage has been found, but as part of a normal exercise in safety, we will delay today’s planned spacewalk until our experts are confident that none of the debris in the airlock poses a permanent threat,” Johnson said.
NASA said the maneuver could be done today if necessary and that flight controllers will continue “to work with our teams on the ground to determine what is best to proceed with the spacewalk.”
The delayed spacewalk, which will include the installation of a new avionics room and installation of an ammonia cooling system pump, was originally scheduled for Thursday but was postponed because a space station astronaut nearly ran over two mice stuck inside a void.
The latest incident adds to a growing list of problems that space station managers are dealing with, including a radar problem that led to the discovery of a solar array there and months of delays in the space station’s return to Earth and the launch of a robotic servicing module.
Those problems have been partially offset by a growing collection of U.S. communications satellites that are being deployed in preparation for the arrival of a Japanese cargo ship in April.
This article was written by Richard A. Webster, Space Writer, and published by The Washington Post.