NASA: No Fourth STS-131 Spacewalk Required

HOUSTON, April 15 (UPI) — NASA managers say they’ve decided there is no need for a special fourth spacewalk to replace a jammed International Space Station nitrogen tank.

That decision was communicated to the space station and shuttle Discovery crews shortly after they awakened at 12:21 a.m. EDT Thursday.

“Station ground teams have determined the station can operate for an extended period of time in the current configuration,” NASA said in a statement. “The team is continuing to troubleshoot the stuck valve and is looking at options for future replacement of the nitrogen tank assembly should that be necessary.”

Officials said the stuck valve is in a nitrogen tank that’s needed to pressurize a new ammonia tank just installed on the station. The ammonia circulates through radiators that dissipate heat generated by the station’s electronic systems.

The shuttle’s astronauts Thursday morning moved the Multipurpose Logistics Module back into the shuttle’s cargo bay for its return to Earth. The current STS-131 mission marks the seventh time Leonardo has carried supplies and equipment to the station. NASA said the next time it returns — with the STS-133 crew in September — it will become a permanent module berthed to the station.

Discovery and its crew are to return to Earth Monday.

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