Tags: Russian | Experts | Try | Fix | Space | Station | Computers

Russian Experts Try to Fix Space Station Computers

Friday, 15 June 2007 12:00 AM

MOSCOW -- Russian engineers sought to fix malfunctioning navigational computers on the orbiting International Space Station on Friday, hoping to ward off a possible evacuation of its three crew.

The computers, some of which control thrusters that help keep the $100 billion station in a stable orbit, broke down on Wednesday shortly after the crew of the visiting U.S. space Shuttle Atlantis installed a new solar wing panel for power.

Russian space officials were "cautiously optimistic" the problems in the German-built computers that run Russian software could be solved, a Roskosmos official was quoted as saying.

The six computers were restarted on Thursday and worked for three hours before breaking down again, Russian media reported.

"During the day a whole series of measures will be undertaken to analyze the reasons for the malfunction of the computers and to get them back in working order," Russian space agency spokesman Igor Panarin told the Interfax news agency.

"We're cautiously optimistic about solving this problem."

Officials at mission control outside Moscow declined immediate comment but planned to hold a news conference later on Friday.

NASA has said that a failure to fix the computers could force a temporary evacuation of the space station, a 16-nation project which has been continuously manned since November 2, 2000.

That unlikely worst-case-scenario would entail the three space station astronauts leaving in the escape ship, a Russian Soyuz capsule. The Atlantis crew would return to Earth on the shuttle.

The station mainly relies on big gyroscopes to maintain its proper orientation in space but also uses control jets and navigation systems run by the computers in its Russian section.

No cause for the problem has been established but a leading theory cited by Russian officials has been electronic "noise" caused by magnetic fields from nearby cables that may have increased once the new solar panel was attached.

© reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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MOSCOW -- Russian engineers sought to fix malfunctioning navigational computers on the orbiting International Space Station on Friday, hoping to ward off a possible evacuation of its three crew. The computers, some of which control thrusters that help keep the $100...
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2007-00-15
Friday, 15 June 2007 12:00 AM
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