Astronauts Fix Space Station’s Cooling System

February 3, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. spacewalk /ˈspeɪsˌwɔk/ (n.) – the act of going out of a spacecraft to carry out a certain task or experiment
Example: The two astronauts had a spacewalk to install new equipment in the satellite.

2. deactivate /diˈæktəˌveɪt/ (v.) – to shut down something, especially a machine
Example: The scientists deactivated the machine because of power shortage. 

3. speedy /ˈspidi/ (adj.) – quick or happening in a fast manner
Example: The speedy construction of the building lasted for only a year.

4. operational /ˌɒpəˈreɪʃənl/ (adj.) – in good working condition, especially an equipment
Example: After repairing the broken machine, it is now operational and ready to use. 

5. airlock /ˈɛərˌlɒk/ (n.) – an airtight chamber that can control air pressure 
Example: No air enters the facility because it has an airlock.


Read the text below.
NASA astronauts have successfully repaired a problem at the orbiting International Space Station on Christmas eve last year.

American astronauts Rick Mastracchio [mas-truh-shi-YO] and Mike Hopkins went on a spacewalk to fix the station’s cooling system.  One of the two external cooling lines of the station had shut down, which forced the six-man crew to deactivate all the not-so-important equipment and experiments.

Mastracchio and Hopkins did the repair at a speedy pace. They completed two days’ worth of work in just five and a half hours on a single spacewalk. They have disconnected and pulled out the old cooling pump that regulated the temperature of the equipment at the space station and installed a new ammonia pump module.

A NASA commentator has said that the space station now has a cooling pump that is operational and well-functioning.

Flight engineer Koichi Wakata, who is also part of the six-man crew and is from the Japan Aerospace [AIR-oh-speys] Exploration Agency, manipulated the space station’s 17-meter robotic arm. This robot pulled Hopkins and the refrigerator-sized pump to the place where it was to be installed.

Wakata arrived at the space station in November last year. He will be staying there for six months and will become the first Japanese commander of the space station in March.

On another note, a small amount of water made its way into the cooling system of Mastracchio’s space suit during the repair of the cooling system. It happened when he was at the station’s airlock right after the spacewalk.

An astronaut may drown if water enters his spacesuit, as in the case of Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano who almost drowned because of a water leak in his helmet. NASA is still investigating this case. 

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What do you think are the other risks of being an astronaut? Kindly explain.
·         If given the chance, would you ever consider becoming an astronaut despite the risks? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         How can one ensure his/her own safety in the workplace? Explain.
·         What measures can a company or any business do to guarantee the employee’s safety in the workplace? Please explain briefly.


February 3, 2014