Feeds

Computer crash causes bad attitude on ISS

Altitude control also offline

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The International Space Station (ISS) has an attitude problem. A computer system wipe-out means the space station is currently depending on the docked space shuttle Atlantis to keep it pointing in the right direction.

More worryingly, in the long term, the dead computers also control the station's altitude, oxygen, and water supplies.

Russian flight controllers are hard at work trying to fix the malfunctioning systems, as speculation grows as to the cause of the glitch.

According to reports, the problems with the computers began shortly after the new truss segment was installed on Monday. On Tuesday, four of the Russian's six computers went offline, leaving just one guidance machine and one command-and-control machine. By Wednesday, these had crashed as well, leaving the space station effectively adrift in space.

Mike Suffredini, manager of the space station programme at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, told reporters he thought the idea of all six Russian machines having a hardware failure at the same time was unlikely.

"It appears to me that something has changed in the environment, either something in the (space) environment or the source of power to these computers is different coming from S3/S4 for reasons we do not understand," he said.

He added that the Russians have suggested switching off the power from the new S3/S4 truss segment and trying to bring the systems back online using only the internal power systems. However, the Russian section is not self sufficient in power terms and needs the power from the S3/S4 truss. If the new segment is the problem, it will still have to be solved.

The computer crash could mean Atlantis stays at the ISS for another day, to allow the Russian team more time to correct the problem.

But managers are hopeful that the problem will be resolved within a few days. If not, the astronauts might all have to return to Earth. The Shuttle crew would fly back in Atlantis, and the rest of the ISS personnel would have to travel in a Soyuz spacecraft. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.