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NASA schedules three spacewalks for ISS to fix cooling pump

NASA has announced repairs for the International Space Station (ISS) to fix the cooling system. The repair will delay further cargo deliveries until the new year.

The US space agency reassured reporters overnight Wednesday that a faulty valve aboard the ISS had not put the six-man crew in danger. However, it said the valve had caused a partial breakdown in the cooling system and would need to be repaired before a cargo shipment could be brought on board.

"NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins will remove a pump module that has a failed valve," NASA said in a statement early Wednesday.

"They will replace it with an existing spare that is stored on an external stowage platform," it added.

The repair would require the astronauts to perform up to three spacewalks, scheduled for December 21, 23 and 25.

Orbital Science - which has a $1.9-billion (1.38-billion-euro) contract with NASA for eight cargo missions - had planned to send its "Cygnus" capsule to deliver supplies to the crew this month. The company reportedly rescheduled the cargo shipment for early January.

Nearly a week ago, a defective valve led to the breakdown of two external cooling loops that are responsible for cooling down the ISS's internal and external equipment. A report by the news agency DPA indicated the problem had forced the Russian crew to sharply reduce its energy consumption on board.

kms/tj (AFP, dpa)