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Cooling pump fails on International Space Station; six-man crew OK

(CNN) — NASA scaled back operations on the International Space Station on Wednesday after discovering a problem with a cooling system.

A pump on one of the station’s two external cooling loops shut down after hitting a temperature limit, NASA said.

Teams worked to get the cooling loop back up and running, NASA said. Experts suspect a malfunctioning valve may have caused the problem, but they’re still trying to figure out how to fix it.

The station and crew aboard were never in any danger, NASA said.

Officials could determine that an emergency spacewalk is the best way to fix the failed pump — something they’ve done in the past.

NASA said Thursday that there has been no decision on the spacewalk, and it may be a couple of days before the decision is made, according to Kenny Todd, the ISS mission management team chairman.

The external cooling loops are systems that circulate ammonia outside the station to keep equipment cool.

Officials discovered the malfunctioning loop was producing too much ammonia Wednesday morning, NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said.

Teams have shut down some noncritical systems on the station as a result of the problem, NASA said.

The space station’s life support system is still up and running.

The current mission of the space station, officially called Expedition 38, is scheduled to go until March 2014.

The six-person crew consists of NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio of the United States; Russians Mikhail Tyurin, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Oleg Kotov; and Koichi Wakata of Japan.

CNN’s Drew Iden contributed to this report.

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