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Submitted by Arthur N1ORC - Amsat A/C #31468

CAPE CANAVERAL -- The International Space Station's main oxygen 
generator is broken again, but NASA officials said Tuesday there are 
enough reserves onboard to last its crew several months if necessary.

Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov has tried three times to coax the 
balky generator back into operation since it broke down last weekend. 
But each of those attempts failed, prompting Russian flight controllers 
to replenish the station's air supply by tapping into one of the reserve 
tanks aboard the recently-arrived Progress cargo ships.

NASA officials, meanwhile, said Sharipov and U.S. crewmate Leroy Chiao 
have enough oxygen to last well beyond the scheduled March 2 arrival of 
a Russian Progress resupply ship.

"There's plenty of reserve oxygen onboard from a variety of sources," 
said Rob Navias, a spokesman for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The extra sources include a two-week supply stored in tanks delivered by 
a Progress ship on Dec. 25, and enough solid-fuel oxygen generation 
cartridges to last an additional 42 days.

The latter burn lithium perchlorate within metal housings. The resulting 
chemical reaction produces oxygen that is vented into the station's 
atmosphere. The devices are similar to those used aboard commercial 
airliners to produce breathing air for drop-down emergency oxygen masks.

Oxygen from those two sources alone would last about 60 days. Tanks 
attached to the station's U.S. Quest airlock hold an oxygen supply that 
would last another several months.
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