International Space Station: Potential Toxic Leak Forces Emergency Evacuation

A section of the International Space Station was evacuated earlier today, after a possible toxic leak of ammonia was detected, according to both NASA and Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency.

Astronauts were forced to don gas masks and take refuge in the Russian section of the Space Station after an alarm indicated a spike in coolant pressure, according to the Daily Mail. They then closed the hatch to the U.S. section, in order to contain any ammonia that may be leaking. Crew members have been told to remain in the Russian part of the station while the possible leak is investigated.

Roscosmos asserted that the alarm was triggered by the release of toxic gas from one of the Space Station’s air conditioning units at 8.45 a.m. GMT (3:45 a.m. EST) today. NASA, however, remained unsure, saying that the alarm may have been the result of a faulty sensor. Flight controllers also detected an increase in the Space Station’s water pressure, as well as an anomaly in one of the thermal control systems, suggesting a sensor problem.

NASA reports that the Space Station crew, which is currently comprised of six astronauts from America, Italy, and Russia, followed normal safety procedures. Though they remain in the Russian section of the station, the flight control team in Houston noted that they are in excellent shape, according to the Verge.

If the International Space Station is proven to be suffering an ammonia leak, it won’t be the first time. Last May, a leak was detected, requiring similar emergency procedures. As the Inquisitr previously reported, a spacewalk was undertaken by several astronauts to replace a pump outside of the station.

NASA has released updates on the situation through their official Twitter account, as flight controllers assess the systems aboard the station. Shortly before 8:30 a.m. Eastern, they noted that the alarm was starting to look like a false indication.

Two Soyuz capsules are currently docked at the International Space Station, which could shuttle astronauts to Earth in the event a full evacuation is required.

[Image: Alamy via the Daily Mail]