One of the cooling systems has failed on the International Space Station, requiring astronauts to power down to prioritize life-support systems, NASA confirmed on Wednesday.
The situation is not a life-threatening emergency but requires astronauts to cut back on normal operations, NASA spokesman Josh Byerly told NBC News. Noncritical systems had to be shut down in order to prioritize life-support systems, electrical systems and science experiments, including freezers that preserve samples.
“The crew was never in any danger,” Byerly said. “They worked to keep the freezers going … They’re fine for the near future.”
In a statement provided to Mashable’s Amanda Wills, who is writing a book on NASA, the space agency said, “The crew is safe and preparing to begin a normal sleep shift, while experts on the ground collect more data and consider what troubleshooting activities may be necessary.”
Engineers believe the problem is the result of a malfunctioning control valve for the station’s ammonia coolant. A space walk may be required to fix the problem, Byerly said.