CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The space station crew is spending the new year dealing with an old problem: a broken oxygen generator.
The primary machine for producing oxygen aboard the international space station -- patched and jury-rigged repeatedly last fall -- stopped working again Saturday. The cabin atmosphere was replenished Tuesday with oxygen from the supply ship that arrived on Christmas Day.
Cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov and astronaut Leroy Chiao spent most of yesterday trying to fix the Russian-built oxygen generator. The latest problem appears to be similar to what crippled the system last year: gas bubbles in the machine's extensive plumbing.
NASA spokesman Rob Navias said the spacemen have plenty of reserve oxygen and are in no danger.
In Cape Canaveral, meanwhile, the redesigned external fuel tank that will propel shuttle Discovery on a trip to the space station in late spring arrived by barge yesterday. The shuttle fleet has been grounded since a piece of fuel-tank foam brought down Columbia in 2003.