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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
Boffins spot weirder quantum capers as neutrons take the high road, spin takes the low
Cheshire cat effect see neutrons and their properties walk different paths
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.