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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Space Station Crew Tries to Fix Russian-Built Oxygen System

Three crewmen aboard the $95 billion international space station struggled on Thursday to repair the orbiting complex's collapsed Russian-made Elektron oxygen supply system, Mission Control said.

Neither the crew members, living on backup reserves, nor their research work faced any threat, a spokesman for Mission Control outside Moscow said.

"There is enough oxygen in the station, so there is nothing terrible about this," Valery Lyndin said. "There is enough oxygen to last three or more months."

The 16-nation ISS, manned since 2000, is still under construction. Russian commander Yury Onufriyenko and U.S. board engineers Dan Bursch and Carl Walz are aboard.

The Elektron system on the ISS's Russian-made Zvezda living module is a modified version of the mechanism that encountered repeated problems in supplying the de-orbited Mir station.

Elektron, which breaks down water into hydrogen and breathable oxygen, had its most spectacular failure after Mir collided with a resupply ship in June 1997. Two months later, the backup system of oxygen "candles" failed, but the problem was eventually righted by the crew.

"Elektron was working on the ISS, taking oxygen from water, but there are other mechanisms, and they are getting oxygen with the help of these systems now," Lyndin said.

He added the normal oxygen supply would be back up within the next few days.

"The system is automated, so you can command it from Earth or from the computers on board. We are taking the appropriate measures," Lyndin said.

The crew members, aboard the station since December, are scheduled to leave in June. The station is being built mainly by Russia and the United States, with the participation of agencies from Europe, Canada and Japan.