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Astronauts evacuated from International Space Station due to a possible chemical leak

on 14 January 2015

Update 15 January 2015: NASA states that no signs of ammonia have been detected. The crew opened the hatch to the U.S. segment and returned inside on 14 January at 22:05 Romania time, following the meeting of the International Space Station mission management team, including all of the station Partners. Further details are available here.

According to NBC news, on 14 January 2015: the crew of the International Space Station were forced to evacuate the U.S. section, after a possible chemical leak. The crew moved to the Russian part of the facility, while the U.S. section of the ISS was sealed off.

The "toxic substance was emitted from a cooling system into the station's atmosphere" in the US segment of the station, the Russian Federal Space Agency said, quoted by NBC news.

NASA declared that the Expedition 42 crew members are safe and in good shape inside the Russian segment of the International Space Station following an alarm in the U.S. segment. For the time being it is not yet known if the alarm was actually triggered by a leak or whether the situation was caused by a faulty sensor or by a problem in a computer. (Source)

No official statements have been made by ESA at the time of this report, apart from sharing information from NASA.

According to The Telegraph, the accident could delay the departure of the US SpaceX cargo ship Dragon, which brought supplies earlier this week. Fixing the leak may also require an emergency spacewalk.

The International Space Station experienced a similar event in May 2013, when astronauts aboard ISS performed an emergency spacewalk to hunt for an ammonia leak in the orbiting laboratory's cooling system. Details here.

More details about the International Space Station are available here.

Image credit: NASA