Thursday, June 14, 2007

---ISS Computer Failure 

SpaceThe Flame Trench space blog by Florida Today
Space station glitch puzzles the experts - Human Spaceflight - MSNBC.com[Oberg]]
All last night, engineers worked to figure out why ALL of the supposedly redundant control computers on the Russian part of the ISS suddenly failed as the new U.S. solar arrays came online. There was great relief this morning, as the Russians assured everyone that they were regaining control of some of the critical systems---which lasted for about 7 minutes, whereupon they all failed again. U.S. gyrodynes and the Shuttle’s thrusters are keeping the station oriented for now.
James Oberg, at MSNBC, fills in a lot of details about the systems, where they came from, how they are supposed to work, and what will happen if they can’t be fixed before the Shuttle has to leave.
The computers were made in Germany---at least they aren’t Russian---and operate in three sets of two pairs to provide redundancy. This is actually the second time something like this has happened. The last was in 2001, when all of the flight computers in the U.S. module inexplicably failed while the Shuttle was docked and stuff was being bolted on.
It’s clear is that the problem is very serious, and the optimism from managers and engineers on the ground---who assure everyone that they don’t see any reason yet to talk about having to abandon the station, perhaps permanently---is just beginning to ravel a little around the edges. Worse, if attitude control can’t be maintained after the Shuttle leaves, conditions could deteriorate to the point that the Soyuz might not be able to undock from a rapidly tumbling station.


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