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Communications with computers running ISS oxygen, water resume

illustration only
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jun 14, 2007
After hours of a glitch in Russian computers that control the International Space Station's critical oxygen and water supplies, communications with the systems have resumed, NASA spokesmen said Thursday.

"They had a problem with those computers going off-line overnight," NASA spokesman Bill Jeffs told AFP from Houston, Texas.

The first such mishap of its kind raised concerns the mission might have to be cut short.

But now "they have reestablished communications" with the module and Russian central computers, Jeffs said.

"The Russians report that they think it is a power problem and not a software problem" that triggered the potentially problematic glitch, Jeffs said.

Another NASA spokesman, John Ira Petty, said the problem had not been entirely fixed by 1255 GMT Thursday, but that restoring communictions was "certainly a step in that direction" after many hours of interruption.

"There is some cleaning up left to do after a situation like this as you can imagine. But we are optimistic," he added.

earlier related report
Space Station Computers In Russian Section Fail
NASA's Space Station team has a new problem on its hands with the failure of critical computer systems supporting critical parts of the Russian station modules. The failure leaves the station dependent on US systems including gyroscopes, and Shuttle Atlantis which is currently docked to the station in support of shuttle mission STS-117. ISS program manager Mike Suffredini has told reporters that the computer failures could in the worst case senario force the crew to leave.

Station computers have failed in the past but not where all three Russian computer nodes fail at the same time are unable to reset themselves, as occurred on Wednesday.

The US modules have their own computers but the Space Station is now a complex independent system that has only been stress tested in limited configuations.

NASA's Suffredini expects that the problem will be fixable and that "there were numerous alternatives short of taking the crew off the station" the AP news wire reported. "I'm not thinking this is something we will not recover from," he added.

In the meantime station construction managers are looking at whether the new solarcell array installed by shuttle astronauts this week is the root cause of the problem and whether disconnecting it to reboot the computers could resolve it.

US astronauts on 7 hour space walk at ISS
Two US astronauts spent more than seven hours outside the International Space Station Wednesday working on its solar power panels as part of a huge expansion of the station's generation capacity.

Pat Forrester and Steve Swanson, who arrived at the ISS Sunday aboard the NASA space shuttle Atlantis, undertook the second of a total four spacewalks for construction and inspection purposes during the Atlantis's 13 day mission in space.

The two worked 90 minutes on a 73-meter (240-foot) older solar array on the starboard side of the ISS, "fluffing" it, NASA said, to ease full retraction on Thursday.

They only succeeded in folding up 13 of the unit's 31.5 array bays, and the rest will be retracted Thursday by remote control, according to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Retracting the P6 array allows a newly installed set of arrays to better track the sun, eventually kicking the ISS power generating potential up to as much as 14 kilowatts, enough to help run new science modules from the European and Japanese space agencies to be installed in the future.

The P6 structure will be repositioned on the ISS at a later date by a different shuttle mission.

The two astronauts also worked on the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint, which will allow the new arrays to follow the sun, but they left it held in place by restraints, which will be removed in an upcoming space walk.

During the walk mission specialist Jim Reilly coordinated operations outside the ISS and pilot Lee Archambault was at the controls of the station's robotic arm, used in the task.

Meanwhile, commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and flight engineers Oleg Kotov and Clayton Anderson transferred fresh supplies to the ISS and cargo destined for Earth onto the Atlantis.

The next space walk is scheduled for Friday, during which astronauts will try to repair a damaged insulation blanket on the Atlantis which peeled back after liftoff at the rear of the shuttle, exposing a small underlying area that theoretically could be hazardous to the graphite structures underneath as the craft returns to Earth.

NASA aims to have the astronauts pin the blanket back into place with surgical staples.

The US space agency has played down concerns over the tear to the thermal blanket since it was noticed after last Friday's launch.

But such damage is a concern after the Columbia shuttle disintegrated as it returned to Earth in February 2003. This was due to breaks in its heat shield caused by foam insulation peeling off its fuel tank and striking a wing during the launch.

All seven astronauts aboard perished and the shuttle program was put on hold for nearly two and a half years while the space agency sought to overcome the problem, modifying the external fuel tank and setting procedures to check the heat shield while in orbit.

Source: Agence France-Presse and wires

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US Atlantis Astronauts Step Out On Space Walk
Washington (AFP) June 11, 2007
Astronauts of the US shuttle Atlantis started the first space walk of their mission Monday to begin installing power-generating equipment on the International Space Station hundreds of miles above the Earth. Two of the crew, mission specialists John "Danny" Olivas and Jim Reilly, emerged from an airlock on the station at 2002 GMT in the first of three planned space walks, according to the US space agency NASA's television broadcast.

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