In breaking news, NASA reported that a module of the International Space Station had to be evacuated on Wednesday morning due to an alarm usually indicating an ammonia leak.
Apparently an alarm went off around 4 a.m. The alarm often indicates an ammonia leak, and Expedition 42 crew members immediately donned their masks and sealed themselves in the Russian segment (where there was no alarm).
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Probably a false alarm caused by a faulty sensor
NASA later announced that there was no hard data confirming there was an actual ammonia leak.
Mission flight controllers say the alarm could have been caused by a pressure spike in a water loop for thermal control systems, a faulty sensor or possibly a short in a computer relay box.
Johnson Space Center in Houston is working to gather more evidence to confirm that this was a false alarm connected to a faulty sensor.
NASA noted the ISS crew will probably spend the rest of the day in the Russian segment of the space station, where a week of provisions are stored.
Statement from NASA and Roscosmos
“The space station crew is safe,” NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs said in an initial announcement.
Jacobs continued to say: “We saw an increase in water loop pressure, then later saw a cabin-pressure increase that could be indicative of an ammonia leak in the worst case scenario, so we protected for the worst case scenario and isolated the crew is the Russian segment of the space station while the teams are evaluating the situation.”
Later communications between the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the station suggest they are “not entirely convinced this is an ammonia leak.”
Russia’s space agency Roscosmos noted in a press release that a “leak of harmful substances from the cooling system” caused the crew to evacuate the American module. “The crew is safe and is in the Russian segment now,” the statement added.