A problem with the emergency oxygen supply units on NASA's EVA spacesuits used by Shuttle spacewalkers could cause a delay in the launch of the next mission, STS 106, in September.

A number of pressure regulators in the emergency oxygen units on the suits were found to have been contaminated with oily hydrocarbon, which could react with the pressurised oxygen in the emergency pack, possibly exploding. The emergency oxygen units have never been used in space. The oil may have been in the regulators of several suit units for years.

NASA will decontaminate enough units to support the EVAs on the STS 106 mission, which is due to prepare the International Space Station for work. If the suits are not ready, the flight will be delayed.

Source: Flight International