International Space Station Program Manager Michael Suffredini says ''while it's inconvenient for the crew to be in the Russian segment, it's certainly not unhealthy for them,'' after a signal raised concerns of an ammonia leak. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Astronauts evacuated the U.S. section of the International Space Station on Wednesday (January 14) and moved into the Russian side after a signal raised concerns of an ammonia leak, though early analysis suggested it was a false alarm, NASA said. NASA's Butch Wilmore, the station commander, together with Terry Virts, a flight engineer with NASA, and Samantha Cristoforetti, a flight engineer with the European Space Agency, abandoned the U.S. side of the orbital outpost after an alarm sounded around 4 a.m. EST. The trio joined three Russian crewmates on the Russian side of the station, which is a partnership of 15 nations, overseen by the United States and Russia. The precautionary move came as ground control teams detected increased pressure in a water line in one of the station's two cooling loops, a possible indication that ammonia many have leaked into the line. "We have a couple of steps in front of us -- the first is to get the power ups done, which the team is doing. And the second is to get insight into the accumulator to confirm that the system is tight like we believe it to be," says ISS Program Manager Michael Suffredini during an interview from the International Space Station Flight Control Room at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. "We would like to get the crew back to the U.S. segment tonight, that would be our goal. While it's inconvenient for the crew to be in the Russian segment, it's certainly not unhealthy for them," says Suffredini. The crew of the $100 billion research laboratory, which is in orbit about 260 miles (418 km) above Earth, was never in any danger, NASA said.