News World Old-school fix: Astronauts find space station leak with tea leaves

Old-school fix: Astronauts find space station leak with tea leaves

The International Space Station had a small air leak - but it was found and fixed. Photo: NASA
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It began with air leak at the International Space Station. Dramatic.

Well, sort of. Since August, NASA had been investigating the leak from the space station which was allowing air to escape.

While the leak wasn’t a threat to the crew currently onboard the space station, it was proving to be pesky. And on occasion, the station requires occasional top-ups of oxygen from tanks delivered on cargo missions.

After weeks of investigation using a variety of advanced scientific instruments, last month the crew narrowed down the search area to the Russia quarter – but they were still unable to find the source.

Enter old-school ingenuity.

The Russian cosmonauts split a tea bag – allowing the leaves to spill into the microgravity of the station and then sealed off the area, state TV reported.

Then they waited while watching the area on CCTV. Over time, the tiny tea leaves drifted towards a tiny scratch on the station’s wall.

“We believe that we have really identified the probable leakage area,” Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin told Russia’s flight control.

“We have several photos and videos of the direction of the tea bag’s flight or where it intended to fly and this precisely shows the direction the air is blowing from the possible air leak.”

After the leak was discovered, the fix was simple – it’s now covered with tape.

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