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Everyone knows what a pain it is when you get a chip on your car's windshield from a bit of flying grit. But on Earth it is usually fairly easy to call someone in to repair it.
NASA are currently evaluating a similar spot of damage to one of the viewing windows on the International Space Station to see if that needs to be replaced.
The chip that left a visible scar on the outer pane was caused by a tiny meteoroid or scrap of space debris travelling many times faster than a bullet. It hit one of seven panes in the orbiting outpost's European-built Cupola - the space equivalent to a conservatory.
This particular impact is not thought to put the six astronauts on board in any danger. But it is a reminder that space is a dangerous place.
In the event of the damage being more serious, on-orbit replacement of an entire window is a design feature. Such a replacement would require an EVA to fit an external pressure cover to allow for the changeout, with a pressure cover requiring a flight up to the ISS.
Originally posted by Zaphod58
reply to post by Soylent Green Is People
I would think that at worst, they would be able to depressurize the cupola, with it sealed off, and change it, then repressurize. But since they're so much smarter than I am, I'm sure they have a procedure drawn up for this. I can't imagine they would have put it in orbit without thinking something like this would eventually happen.
The cupola is small enough that you can't really fit even an unsuited person entirely inside it if it were closed off:
Originally posted by Soylent Green Is People
I wonder why they can't replace the window from inside the depressurized (and sealed-off) module while wearing a space suit, so as not to require the extra exterior pressure cover? Maybe the inside of the module is too small to allow enough freedom of movement required to replace a window while wearing the EVA suit.