Russian Cosmonauts Bypass Power Switch
Russian space engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov revived
the computers onboard the International Space Station Friday,
bringing what must have been great sighs of relief to those
onboard, and controllers at Johnson Space Center and in Russia.
The Russian flight controllers and the station crew were able to
power-up two lanes of the Russian Central Computer and two lanes of
the Terminal Computer by using a jumper cable to bypass a faulty
secondary power switch, reported NASA.
Flight controllers began sending commands Friday night to
restart some systems. The central computer is now communicating
with the US command and control computer, and the terminal computer
is communicating with US navigation computers. The plan calleded
for more system restarts Saturday.
The Russian navigation computers provide backup attitude control
and orbital altitude adjustments. For now, the station's control
moment gyroscopes are handling attitude control, with the shuttle's
propulsion system providing backup.
As ANN had reported, the computer
crash four days ago had restricted oxygen production and
NASA had instructed astronauts Thursday to shut down
non-critical electronics onboard Atlantis, including cameras,
laptop computers and lighting equipment, to conserve energy, in
case officials determined the shuttle would remain docked to the
station for another day to help with the situation.
The computers came back up at 4:09 New York time, said NASA
spokeswoman Lynette Madison. The computers were then temporarily
shut down for maintenance work, reported Bloomberg.
The computers crashed after the crew of the US space shuttle
Atlantis added solar panels to the space station.
The shuttle had the ability to serve as a navigational backup
and the outpost had about 55 days of oxygen reserves. Officials say
the situation could still alter plans for the return Atlantis,
reported Voice of America.
ISS Mission Manager Mike Suffredini explained that the problem
was a faulty circuit inside the computers, which Russian
technicians were able to bypass.
"They went to activate the four that they thought were still
good, and all four of the computers came up," he said.
Suffredini said the other computers are still inactive, and he
expects they will be sent home aboard Atlantis. But if everything
looks good with the operating computers, Suffredini said they will
begin slowly activating all of the systems on board the space
Officials said the most important system maintains the space
station's position, or attitude, in orbit.
Suffredini said mission controllers probably will not know for
another day or two whether the computers can maintain attitude
control. If not, Atlantis will remain docked to the space station
to keep it stable by firing its thruster rockets, something that
would delay the shuttle's return.
Suffredini is cautiously relieved by the turn of events. He had
said from the start of the crisis that no one intended to abandon
the space station, even if the inhabitants had to be rescued
because of the failed computers.
"When the crew said they were up and running, even before
anything else was said, or any time passed, when two of them
(computers) came up and stayed up together, I knew we had changed
something for the better," said Suffredini.
"And at that point, there's a little bit of relief, because you
know some of the [contingencies] you're working on, hopefully you
won't have to go try implement."
Friday during a space walk, shuttle astronauts also successfully
repaired a torn thermal blanket, designed to protect the shuttle
from the heat of re-entry when it returns to Earth next week.
The space station, which has an American portion and a slightly
smaller Russian one, has a crew of three in addition to the
visiting seven Atlantis astronauts. It orbits about 240 miles above