Ammonia Leak Scare Causes Part of ISS to be Shut Down

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Commander Chris Hadfield took to Twitter earlier today to explain an emergency apparently occurring aboard the International Space Station. It seemed that high-pressure ammonia was leaking into the station.

The crew sought refuge in the Russian section of the ISS, as the leak appeared to be affecting the American part. Hadfield says they are "safe for now," but the situation is being analysed.

He's gone on to explain that the ammonia leak, which is used for cooling the space station, is one of the big three disasters that can hit the Space Station. It's usually indicated by a rise in pressure within the station. He also adds that the crew is highly trained for these events, and that they are "calm, together, and working on the problem".

Update 12:42pm GMT: NASA is now saying that "flight controllers are not sure if the alarm was triggered by a pressure spike, a faulty sensor, or a problem in a computer relay box." Sounds like there might not be an ammonia leak.

Update 13:11pm GMT: In an announcement, NASA has said that there is "no concrete data that there was an ammonia leak." There's no ammonia inside thee ISS, fortunately, though it's still unclear whether pressure spike was real or a sensor problem. That's being investigated. Clearly, things are fairly calm up there: Mission Control told the astronauts aboard ISS to "enjoy the impromptu day off."

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