[FPSPACE] Reuters: Russian and American officials arguing about space station leak

james oberg joberg@houston.rr.com
Fri, 9 Jan 2004 14:07:15 -0600


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JimO asks: So what's the current status? Voice/fax 281-337-2838
Russian and American officials arguing about space station leak

Date: Friday, 9 January 2004, at 10:02 a.m.=20

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian and U.S. space officials, locked in a new =
spat over the International Space Station, will seal off their own parts =
of the complex to verify the cause of a loss in air pressure, a Russian =
space official said Friday.=20

NASA officials believe the orbital platform is continuing to lose air =
pressure because of a possible leak, while Russian officials say the =
pressure has stabilized at a normal level. Both agree the two-man crew =
aboard is not in danger.=20

"There has been a suggestion from the United States to separate the two =
modules from each other, the U.S. and Russian segments, to look where =
the pressure is dropping," Vyacheslav Mikhailichenko, spokesman for =
Russian space agency Rosaviakosmos, told Reuters.=20

"Americans know their systems well and Russian academics know their =
systems and therefore they need to be separated to see where the =
pressure loss is occurring, in which section of the station."=20

Previous rows between the two space powers have included U.S. safety =
concerns ahead of the current crew's launch and Russia's belief the =
United States should contribute more funds to the project.=20

Russia has assumed full responsibility for launching manned and cargo =
ships to keep the station in orbit since February 2003, when the United =
States grounded its shuttles after the Columbia shuttle broke apart, =
killing seven astronauts.=20

Mikhailichenko said there had been a decline in air pressure between =
Dec. 31 and Jan. 5 and it had now stabilized. NASA says the fall started =
on Dec. 22 and is continuing.=20

"Today we can establish the fact that the pressure is within a normal =
range," Mikhailichenko said, adding small weekly fluctuations were =
normal and depended on oxygen and humidity levels and other factors.=20

He said scientists would monitor barometer readings in each of the =
sealed-off air-tight sections to determine which one was losing =
pressure.=20

"We're hoping that in the next week something will be explained," he =
said.=20

Officials say the drop in pressure poses no immediate threat to the two =
astronauts on board because there are adequate air supplies.=20

"Even if we take no measures, it will be possible to work on the station =
for several more months," Mikhailichenko said.=20

Russian cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri and NASA astronaut Michael Foale, =
aboard the station since October, have been inspecting the valves and =
hatches since Monday when they first heard about the atmosphere problem. =
Nothing has been found.=20

In an emergency, the crew can return to Earth in a Russian Soyuz capsule =
docked at the station. But Mikhailichenko said such talk at the moment =
was "ridiculous."=20

NASA and its station partners in Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada opened =
the orbiting laboratory to long-term crews in 2000.=20


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<H1 align=3Dcenter>&nbsp;</H1>
<H1 align=3Dleft><FONT size=3D3>JimO asks: So what's the current status? =
Voice/fax=20
281-337-2838</FONT></H1>
<H1 align=3Dcenter>Russian and American officials arguing about space =
station=20
leak</H1>
<P align=3Dcenter><STRONG><BR>Date: Friday, 9 January 2004, at 10:02 =
a.m.=20
</STRONG></P><FONT size=3D+0>
<P>MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian and U.S. space officials, locked in a new =
spat=20
over the International Space Station, will seal off their own parts of =
the=20
complex to verify the cause of a loss in air pressure, a Russian space =
official=20
said Friday.=20
<P>NASA officials believe the orbital platform is continuing to lose air =

pressure because of a possible leak, while Russian officials say the =
pressure=20
has stabilized at a normal level. Both agree the two-man crew aboard is =
not in=20
danger.=20
<P>"There has been a suggestion from the United States to separate the =
two=20
modules from each other, the U.S. and Russian segments, to look where =
the=20
pressure is dropping," Vyacheslav Mikhailichenko, spokesman for Russian =
space=20
agency Rosaviakosmos, told Reuters.=20
<P>"Americans know their systems well and Russian academics know their =
systems=20
and therefore they need to be separated to see where the pressure loss =
is=20
occurring, in which section of the station."=20
<P>Previous rows between the two space powers have included U.S. safety =
concerns=20
ahead of the current crew's launch and Russia's belief the United States =
should=20
contribute more funds to the project.=20
<P>Russia has assumed full responsibility for launching manned and cargo =
ships=20
to keep the station in orbit since February 2003, when the United States =

grounded its shuttles after the Columbia shuttle broke apart, killing =
seven=20
astronauts.=20
<P>Mikhailichenko said there had been a decline in air pressure between =
Dec. 31=20
and Jan. 5 and it had now stabilized. NASA says the fall started on Dec. =
22 and=20
is continuing.=20
<P>"Today we can establish the fact that the pressure is within a normal =
range,"=20
Mikhailichenko said, adding small weekly fluctuations were normal and =
depended=20
on oxygen and humidity levels and other factors.=20
<P>He said scientists would monitor barometer readings in each of the =
sealed-off=20
air-tight sections to determine which one was losing pressure.=20
<P>"We're hoping that in the next week something will be explained," he =
said.=20
<P>Officials say the drop in pressure poses no immediate threat to the =
two=20
astronauts on board because there are adequate air supplies.=20
<P>"Even if we take no measures, it will be possible to work on the =
station for=20
several more months," Mikhailichenko said.=20
<P>Russian cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri and NASA astronaut Michael Foale, =
aboard=20
the station since October, have been inspecting the valves and hatches =
since=20
Monday when they first heard about the atmosphere problem. Nothing has =
been=20
found.=20
<P>In an emergency, the crew can return to Earth in a Russian Soyuz =
capsule=20
docked at the station. But Mikhailichenko said such talk at the moment =
was=20
"ridiculous."=20
<P>NASA and its station partners in Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada =
opened the=20
orbiting laboratory to long-term crews in 2000.=20
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