The weekend malfunction knocked out half of the space station’s cooling system, forcing the crew of six to turn off unnecessary equipment and halt scientific work to avoid any overheating.
NASA’s space station program manager, Mike Suffredini, ranked the problem as one of the most serious in the 12-year history of the orbiting lab, but stressed the outpost could keep going indefinitely given the current situation. The fear is that the second cooling loop could shut down at any moment and leave the station in precarious shape.
For now, "everything the crew needs to survive, they’re in good shape, all those systems are active," Suffredini told reporters Monday. "What we’re talking about, really, is it would be a significant challenge if we suffered the next failure."