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Astronauts take shelter after alarm at space station (Jan 14)

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posted on Jan, 14 2015 @ 09:22 AM
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It sounds as if it was a false alarm, but I could imagine that any alarm would cause the astronauts to scramble (I'm a coward, so I would have been in the Soyuz lifeboat saying "see you later, suckers!")


Astronauts at the International Space Station rushed to take shelter early Wednesday after an alarm rang indicating a possible ammonia leak, but that may have been a false alarm, the US space agency said.

The six-member crew donned emergency masks and hurried to the Russian side of the orbiting lab after the alert at around 4 am (0900 GMT), closing the hatch to the US side behind them.

While the Russian space agency told news outlets in Moscow that the cause was a toxic ammonia leak, NASA said a closer analysis of the data pointed to a false alarm, and stressed that the crew was safe.


Astronauts take shelter after alarm at space station

Even if it was a false alarm (or at least if there was no actual danger from this alarm), this underscores the dangers of living in space, whether it be on a space station, a moon base, or a manned vehicle heading to Mars. In fact, the space station has a better escape plan (with two Soyuz capsules always docked there, ready for an emergency evacuation of the entire station) than a manned Mars vehicle would probably have.

An ammonia leak or similar situation -- or something worse, such as a fire -- on a manned vehicle heading to Mars may not have the same lifeboat options. There would probably be very little chance to be able to get the crew back to Earth in an emergency situation.


edit on 1/14/2015 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)




posted on Jan, 14 2015 @ 09:30 AM
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a reply to: Soylent Green Is People

Yah, heart stopper. If they all flee the place and shut the doors behind them how do they go back and fix the leak without contaminating even the escape pods?

Would a real gas leak evict them that easy? Besides the it depends answer, I mean.



posted on Jan, 14 2015 @ 10:05 AM
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originally posted by: intrptr
a reply to: Soylent Green Is People

Yah, heart stopper. If they all flee the place and shut the doors behind them how do they go back and fix the leak without contaminating even the escape pods?

Would a real gas leak evict them that easy? Besides the it depends answer, I mean.


I was thinking the same thing. Then I thought "could they just vent the area somehow?" I'm not sure how all that works but it seems like an easy solution maybe.

As much as I'd love to take a trip to space, the idea that the nearest help is a whole bunch of thousands of miles away will be enough to keep me from ever seriously considering the idea. Well, that and the exorbitant cost.



posted on Jan, 14 2015 @ 10:25 AM
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In the big picture, here's an interesting take by Susan Helms from ten years ago about how the bipolar design accidentally provided enhanced robustness: www.nbcnews.com...



posted on Jan, 14 2015 @ 10:48 AM
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Ammonia boils at-27.94 F and is regularly used in refrigeration such as R-717 and it is also used in a rocket fuel compound. The X15 used an ammonia based fuel in it’s XLR99 rocket engine.
I don’t know what system on the ISS uses ammonia, but I would think probably cooling. This is very dangerous stuff in an enclosed environment.



posted on Jan, 14 2015 @ 01:19 PM
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a reply to: Shamrock6


Then I thought "could they just vent the area somehow?" I'm not sure how all that works but it seems like an easy solution maybe.

Just open the windows, huh?

I know. The problem is how long it takes to close a hatch and secure it. First everyone has to get into the life boat, then close the hatch. Then they can take off their masks. I don't think any emergency "venting" procedures are accessible from there.

The extreme urgency to get in there before the atmosphere becomes to lethal to breathe in the ISS is surely a "scramble".

Staying in the ISS and waiting for the air to foul is not an option. How long do emergency masks supply last? An ammonia leak could be big or small in nature from a "big" reservoir. Finding it, fixing it and purging the atmosphere could take a long time.

If a line is hissing from a fuel or cooling supply tank for instance, the station would basically become uninhabitable.

Thats why they chose to bail into the Soyez. It would mean they had to evacuate and come home.



posted on Jan, 14 2015 @ 01:22 PM
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originally posted by: JimOberg
In the big picture, here's an interesting take by Susan Helms from ten years ago about how the bipolar design accidentally provided enhanced robustness: www.nbcnews.com...


From a computer glitch maybe. But computers don't foul the air with lethal gasses. You can stay in the station and "reset" the computer.

Thanks for the link Jim, got anything about the emergency environmental purging systems by any chance?

regards,

intrptr



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