A system to conserve oxygen on the International Space Station (ISS) by using a docked Space Shuttle to support spacewalks should be tested for leaks in May, if Space Shuttle Discovery launches as planned that month.

The recharge oxygen orifice bypass assembly (ROOBA) is designed to save ISS oxygen and extend the life of on-board life-support system pumps, because it allows a visiting Shuttle’s oxygen to be pumped through to the US-made Quest airlock. ROOBA uses two hoses installed between the Quest airlock and the docking system of a visiting orbiter, so ISS crewmembers preparing for spacewalks can directly use orbiter oxygen. To prepare, astronauts have to breathe pure oxygen for 4h inside Quest and, after spacewalks, spacesuits have to be purged of nitrogen.

“ROOBA will also prolong the life of key system components like the ISS’s compressor,” says Boeing. ROOBA was built and tested at Boeing’s Marshall Space Flight Center facilities in Huntsville, Alabama. It was delivered to the ISS by Discovery on return-to-flight mission STS 114 and installed during the second week of January.

Source: Flight International