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Space Station’s (Russian) Computers Fail

From ABC News:

Space Station Computer Failure; Astronauts Scramble

Three Russian Computers That Control Oxygen Supply and Maintain Orbit Fail


June 14, 2007 An unprecedented computer failure in the Russian segment of the International Space Station has engineers at space centers in Houston and Russia scrambling to solve the problem before the Space Shuttle Atlantis undocks on June 19.

This morning the computers were beginning to send signals to the ground not a fix, but the first good news since the problem appeared Tuesday.

The station’s commander, Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, stayed up all night to work with flight controllers in Russia’s Mission Control to repair the problem.

All three computers for command and control, plus three guidance computers, which provided triple redundancy for vital space station functions, failed; astronauts and ground controllers made repeated attempts to force them to reboot.

There is speculation that new solar arrays, which were installed earlier this week by the visiting shuttle crew, may have triggered the computer shutdowns. These computers stabilize the space station on orbit. They also control the systems that generate oxygen for the crew and scrub deadly carbon dioxide from the atmosphere inside the space station.

Without the guidance and control computers, rocket thrusters cannot be used to adjust the space station’s orientation. Much of the time, the station is stabilized by large gyroscopes, but the gyros and thrusters have to work in tandem.

In the meantime, Atlantis’ thrusters were being used, but the shuttle was supposed to leave the space station Tuesday…

Why on earth (or in space) are they using Russian computers?

In fact, why are they using Russian anything?

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, June 14th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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