L'autunno caldo della ISS

Un guasto a un circuito di raffreddamento impone un parziale spegnimento dei sistemi. Nessun pericolo per gli astronauti, ma ora ci sono riparazioni da fare

Il “loop A”, ovvero uno degli impianti di raffreddamento della Stazione Spaziale Internazionale, è entrato in avaria : il raggiungimento della temperatura limite per operare in sicurezza ha attivato il blocco automatico del sistema, allertando gli operatori a Houston e i sei occupanti attualmente a bordo della ISS. Nessun pericolo immediato per la sopravvivenza degli astronauti , ma lo stop ha imposto un fermo di alcuni moduli (tra cui l’europeo Columbus) per garantire il supporto vitale e la preservazione degli esperimenti operanti in condizioni climatiche controllate. Al momento come detto ci sono sei ospiti sulla ISS: due astronauti USA, uno giapponese e tre cosmonauti russi.

Il blocco dell’impianto di raffreddamento, un sistema indispensabile alla permanenza in orbita viste le temperature estreme che raggiunge lo scafo della ISS quando è riscaldato dal Sole, pare sia scattato a causa di una valvola malfunzionante : non è chiaro al momento se si tratti di un guasto hardware o di un semplice problema software, e tutte le ipotesi saranno vagliate nelle prossime ore per tentare di escogitare una riparazione. Potrebbe bastare una semplice patch software per far ripartire il loop A e riportare in perfetta efficienza la Stazione Spaziale, oppure potrebbe essere necessaria ripetere una passeggiata spaziale come quella di maggio . In ogni caso al momento il funzionamento dei sistemi è garantito dal loop B, l’altro impianto di raffreddamento a bordo.

In linea teorica sono necessarie 2 settimane di lavoro per provvedere a una riparazione al sistema di raffreddamento, uno dei guasti potenzialmente più catastrofici e di maggiore complessità di risoluzione per i tecnici. In realtà spesso viene impiegato molto meno tempo per venire a capo del problema: l’unica variabile sarà la necessità di organizzarsi per un’uscita extra-veicolare , che inevitabilmente comporterà ritardi sulla tabella di marcia della normale amministrazione a bordo (oltre quelli già intervenuti). Non è la prima volta che si verifica un guasto del genere, e dunque sia a terra che in orbita sono preparati ad affrontare il problema. ( L.A. )

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