WASHINGTON — Two astronauts will make a spacewalk today to try to fix an ammonia coolant leak in the power system at the International Space Station.
NASA said Friday the six-member crew at the station is not in danger. The ammonia leak forced the shutdown of one of eight solar panels that power the station, but the outpost can operate fine with seven, spokesman Kelly Humphries said.
Three crew members, including one of the spacewalk veterans slated for the job, are to return to Earth on Monday, one of the reasons NASA wants to do it this weekend, he said.
Station Commander Chris Hadfield of Canada told NASA flight controllers Friday that the six-member crew is completely ready for the spacewalk.
"I think it's really smart the way we're all proceeding here," Hadfield radioed down to Earth. "It's the right thing to do."
Hadfield tweeted that the crew was working "like clockwork" and said the two astronauts were getting their spacesuits ready, adding "Cool!"
The leak is in one of the radiator lines that chill the power systems. There's been a leak before in the same area, officials said. NASA spokesman Rob Navias said power has been rerouted and is operating normally.
U.S. astronauts Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn will make about a six-hour spacewalk to make the repair.