Saturday, June 16, 2007

Space Station Navigation Computer Hit By Electrical Surge - Space Station Could Spiral To Earth!

When Space Station Astronauts were hooking up a new solar panel on Friday, a static charge surged through the power system from the new solar array and fried the main navigation computer.

Ultimately the station could spiral out of orbit.

The fried Space Station computer controlled the orientation of the station. Attitude control will be the determining factor if they have to abandon ship. If the station begins to roll, inertia could tear it apart. Any roll must be quickly corrected before it effects the astronauts ability to work on solving the computer part of the problem.

Image credit: NASA TV

Oxygen and water supply have had to be jerry-rigged to by pass ruined switches in the computer.

From the BBC

Without the Russian oxygen machine running, the space station has a 56-day supply of oxygen left. "If we are in that position, we have an option to depart," Mr Suffredini (ISS programme manager for the US space agency) said.

Tonight, I saw on TV, a report the Russians were thinking of launching a rocket, carrying a replacement replica Russian computer.

If they have the time...

NASA, Friday morning statement:

Earlier in the day, International Space Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini told reporters Russian and U.S. flight controllers and engineers are focusing on efforts for recovering the computers and options to maintain attitude control until the problem is resolved.

"..options to maintain attitude control..."

I wonder if they should drop trying to fix the computer, and jerry-rig some way to fire the stabilizers.

The get away vehicle is still in orbit with the station, it's scheduled to be there for three more days. NASA's thinking on how to use the shuttles rockets to stabilize the station as well.

Can they take everyone off the station, on one shuttle flight?

Will they have to?

Exciting stuff!


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