Problems still dogging the space station

Problems still dogging the space station

Problems still dogging the space station

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
June 15 2007 9:19 AM

Problems still dogging the space station

Keeping up with the problems on ISS is difficult; the situation is complex.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Apparently, when the new solar panels brought up by Atlantis were installed, a power supply box failed. This provided power to the six computers on board used to maintain the station's orientation, which in turn is critical to keeping the solar panels aligned with the Sun. The leading hypothesis is that electrical noise generated in the solar panel wiring is affecting the electronics. Several attempts to correct the problem have not worked, though of course the spokesfolks for NASA are saying this is not a serious problem yet. That may very well be correct, but this situation is very much cause for concern. The Russians may move up a launch to get a new power supply sent up in July.

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An interesting line from an MSNBC news article caught my eye:

The [electronic intereference] spike apparently knocked out an electronics box that provides power to all six of the German-built control computers.

Which makes me ask: why would there be a critical single point of failure aboard the space station? This to me is the bigger story here. Once this problem is fixed -- and it probably will be -- I wonder if the media will follow up with this?