Air Leak on the International Space Station as Crew Sleeps

August 30, 2018 Updated: August 30, 2018    

Waking from a weightless sleep to the words “help find the air leak” might sound like an astronaut’s worst nightmare.

But according to NASA, the air leak, discovered as the astronauts slept on the International Space Station, is nothing to worry about.

At about 7 p.m. on Aug. 29, flight controllers on the ground in Houston and Moscow began seeing signs of a pressure leak in the space station.

The location of the leak was unknown.

But despite the deadly potential of a large leak, mission control was confident that this leak was so minute that it allowed the crew to continue sleeping.

When they woke, the crew set about locating the leak.

The ISS in front of the earth
The ISS, backdropped against the Earth, shortly after the Space Shuttle Atlantis undocked from the orbital outpost on Sept. 17, 2006, (NASA)

“As flight controllers monitored their data, the decision was made to allow the Expedition 56 crew to sleep since they were in no danger,” said a Nasa/ISS blog post.

“When the crew was awakened at its normal hour this morning, flight controllers at Mission Control in Houston and at the Russian Mission Control Center outside Moscow began working procedures to try to determine the location of the leak.”

As the name suggests the International Space Station is manned by a crew of various of nationalities: Americans, Europeans, and Russians.

The six-strong crew eventually found the leak appears to be on the Russian side of the orbital outpost, reported NASA.

“Program officials and flight controllers are continuing to monitor the situation as the crew works through its troubleshooting procedures,” said the latest NASA report on Aug. 30.

NASA has recently developed a system to pinpoint leaks that works the same way people find a leak in a rubber tyre—by identifying the high-frequency signature hiss.

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