Are the ISS astronauts in danger after alarm sounded?

What happened?

Astronauts hurriedly evacuated the US section of the International Space Station and moved to its Russian module.

Why?

An alarm indicating a possible ammonia leak in the cooling system prompted the crew to leave and seal off the American module.

Who’s up there right now?

There’s six people at the space outpost for Expedition 42, meaning it is at capacity.

It is currently manned by Nasa astronauts Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts, Russians Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti from Italy.

Cristoforetti tweeted that everyone is “safe and doing well” and thanked people for their concern.

Is anyone in danger?

Although the alarm sounded, further testing has Nasa officials thinking it was a sensor problem, rather than a true reading, Nasa spokesman Mike Curie said.

Will anything change on board the ISS?

The ISS is orbiting about 400 kilometres (250 miles) above the Earth. The crew planned to finish its working day in the Russian segment and sleep there overnight out of caution. There is enough room and food for them to stay there a week but that is not likely to be necessary, said Curie.

Everyone in agreement then?

Not quite. Russian and US officials insist all six crew were not in any danger. But, while the Russian space agency Roscosmos said there was a coolant leak, Nasa said in a statement on its online television station there was still “no concrete data that suggests that there was, in fact, an ammonia leak”.

Russia’s Tass news agency said just about one-third of ammonia was left in the coolant system at the US module and the rest had leaked out.

It quoted Roscosmos chief Oleg Ostapenko as saying the situation was still being examined but an “evacuation (of the entire station) is not on the agenda”. Nasa said the astronauts evacuated to the Russian module as a precaution.

They do agree that they worked together, be it in reaction to a real or perceived problem. Mission control experts in Moscow and Houston quickly and efficiently co-operated to ensure the crew’s safety.

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