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Space Station Suffers Power Glitch

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the bad-times-in-space dept.

Space 53

TheSexican writes "As if the MRO's vision problems weren't enough, it seems that NASA has another problem on their hands as of late. " The problem itself has been solved; one of the solar power array went off line, and had to be repaired, but is back up and working.

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Problem solved? (-1, Troll)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982764)

Ok, then. Let's close this thread, and return to our usual MS bashing, Apple-adoring, overlord-welcoming routine.

Re:Problem solved? (-1, Offtopic)

AndyG314 (760442) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982930)

I for one welcome our new MS bashing, Apple-adoring, overlord-welcoming overlords.

Re:Problem solved? (0, Offtopic)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982980)

I for one, welcome our MS-bashing Apple-adoring overlords.

Heh always wanted to do that... but seriously it's still news even if they already fixed it. Now if only it wasn't a hole in space you launch money into... Not that I don't value space exploration and research but exploration and research are the key words in my mind.

Re:Problem solved? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17983116)

I for one welcome our new overlord-welcoming overlords.

What's that thing for? (4, Interesting)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982770)

Hey, are we acually doing anything in that space station, except fixing it?

Re:What's that thing for? (4, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982888)

They are trying to determine how people respond to someone toggling the light switch on-and-off in space. Hollywood wants the research to make scarier movies set in space.

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

dammy (131759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17984026)

If it was helping Hollywood, then it would be far more useful then what it's doing now, sucking NASA's budget dry. Abandon the White Elephant and deorbit it over the Pacific Ocean so we can ground the killing machines, the shuttles. NASA would have it's budget back inline and could be saving yet another seven lives. There is work to be done in space and the ISS is standing in the way.

Dammy

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

rishistar (662278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987196)

And, in break with horror movie tradition, the actresses for these forthcoming movies aren't being asked to scream during their auditions.

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

fractalVisionz (989785) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982894)

Yes...

I mean, no.

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982898)

They're seeing if ants can drive tiny screws in space. The research has all kinds of ramifications from watch-making to watch-repair.

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

PinkPanther (42194) | more than 7 years ago | (#17984406)

The digital watch is still a pretty neat idea [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:What's that thing for? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17982948)

We'd love to do more with it, but all our money's going to distant lands instead, because someone had something to prove to his daddy. Oh, yes, said someone also changed NASA's direction just to show the world that he could, and that's costing a lot, too.

Re:What's that thing for? (2, Interesting)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983610)

And 12 billion $ of that money, in actual paper bills weighing 360 tons [sltrib.com] was completely lost in the distant land you implied. Propably just burning these bills would give enough power to launch a sattelite.

P.s. The article linked to here is the first I found and seems pretty biased, please find a better source for yourself.

Re:What's that thing for? (5, Interesting)

beh (4759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982960)

Even continuing to fix it IS useful - if only to teach future space missions what kind of problems evolve over time. (i.e. for a lot of things you might be able to do a "quick and dirty" hack, if all you need it for is a day or two... For a space ship to be in space for months or even years, we do need to know more about the actual degradation of materials in the conditions out there...

But - even with the regular repairs, I would still think they're doing SOME research - even if that might not be quite is visible in the headlines as "read all about the latest power outage!"...

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 7 years ago | (#17984388)

Are they learning a lot about breakdowns that those previous missions (Mir, for example) didn't tell us all? Maybe a few things, but worth many billions of dollars? You think so?

And no, they're really not doing any new and useful research anymore, at least in my opinion. The science budget has basically been slashed to non-existence. (The original plans included some useful and interesting research, but that's gone up in balloon engineering budgets.)

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17989620)

And no, they're really not doing any new and useful research anymore, at least in my opinion.

In your opinion, yes. In other just as well educated opinions, no. The thing is that getting to space is difficult. You know that. I worked on the MGS and saw it lost for 1 little glitch. You are also on an automated mission. But robotics have had a LOT more experience than has man in space. As it is, it is far easier to build robotic systems that will succeed, than it is to build a system that will not fail under and circumstances (which is what is required for man). I realize that you are far more interested in sending robots up there. But we need to get off this rock. Once we are off, then the same systems that enable man to survive will be used for new and advanced robotics. In fact, I believe that the robotics will make MAJOR leaps because of man missions. If nothing else, realize that by 2009, private enterprise will be handling a lot more of the ISS and the upcoming lunar trips that is currently called for. At that time, it will be easier for NASA to move back to Robotics.

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 7 years ago | (#17990686)

"But we need to get off this rock."

Really, why? And why now? You state this like it is an agreed upon conclusion and I don't see why that should be.

And if you believe (as you apparently do) that ISS is doing new, useful science, then by all means, point out what's worth the over $100 billion cost (the last projected cost I've seen).

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17991130)

I believe that staying in one place is a big mistake. In particular, we are a very prone species (esp as we do a lot of damage to our ecosystem). It is in our own interest to keep moving on to other rocks. In fact, it is in America's interest to do so as fast as possible. History should have taught you that with England vs. China.

As to the Science, just the ability to live in space it worth it. The 100B is nothing in the long term (and that is over some odd 20 years). As I pointed out, I think that the private enterprise will take over the exploration and move us to other worlds soon enough. Once these systems are in place, then large automated science will continue as always. But let me point out that the some of the biggest arguments for the work that you do, and the work that I did, was for mankind to go to these places. In fact, if not for that argument, I doubt that your project would have been funded (mine was certainly about future missions). For simple cheap science, we would be better off sending more voyagers type missions that do cursory glances on the way past. In fact, the biggest reason for your project was that the jobs were spread ALL over the states. Try getting a pure science project approved that creates jobs in exactly 1 place. It will never happen. That is why NASA is the political creature that it is.

Re:What's that thing for? (3, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 7 years ago | (#17991970)

I believe that staying in one place is a big mistake. In particular, we are a very prone species (esp as we do a lot of damage to our ecosystem).
Ah, you're one of those people who thinks that terraforming another planet would be easier than fixing the environment here. I've always found that argument a bit odd, when you think about it. Anything we can do to Mars, we can really do to Earth, only it's easier here because even under the worst environmental damage I can imagine, this planet will be inherently more habitable.

History should have taught you that with England vs. China.
Not really. The histories that I've read suggest that the comparison you're making is vastly oversimplified to the point of being almost blatantly wrong. (And England for crying out loud? England didn't foot the bill of most of the exploration, they vultured in. Which, by the way, is suggestive: Spain trashed its own economy thanks to it's endeavors in the New World.) The analogy to space exploration also breaks down: Europe was getting copious resources from the New World that it couldn't get elsewhere or could only get at higher prices. To date, no one has convinced me that there is anything economically viable about colonizing another world in this solar system. The very cost of bring materials back makes any resource more expensive than if it were produced/mined/grown here.

Maybe you needed to pay more attention in history class.

As to the Science, just the ability to live in space it worth it.
And now the appeal to "it's cool!" A valid point, but a far cry from your initial claims of "we must go into space" and about the scientific value of ISS. If we want to spend $100 billion plus (over about 17 years, actually; the $100 billion doesn't include R&D) for the "Cool" factor, fine. But convince Congress and the taxpayers that the coolness is worth that much. If they are willing to foot the bill knowing what they're really getting, I'm thrilled. (Because it *is* cool.) But I hate seeing people sold fraudulent claims like ISS was pitched on.

As I pointed out, I think that the private enterprise will take over the exploration and move us to other worlds soon enough.
Great! So why are you asking NASA to fund it instead? Private enterprise is less likely to be a pile of political pork like ISS has turned out, so I think letting them make the next move would be fantastic idea.

But let me point out that the some of the biggest arguments for the work that you do, and the work that I did, was for mankind to go to these places.
I have yet to hear anyone argue that the word I do is in support of the manned spaceflight initiative in any way. People fund my research because they're interested in the answer. Apart from the Moon and Mars, I know of no claims that solar system exploration, let alone astrophysics in general, is about manned spaceflight.

Try getting a pure science project approved that creates jobs in exactly 1 place. It will never happen. That is why NASA is the political creature that it is.
Sorry, that happens all the time. Not $3 billion projects to be sure, but there are many projects which create jobs in one district. (Hell, the lion's share of the money for robotic missions goes to JPL as it is.)

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

beh (4759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996414)

As I pointed out, I think that the private enterprise will take over the exploration and move us to other worlds soon enough.
Great! So why are you asking NASA to fund it instead? Private enterprise is less likely to be a pile of political pork like ISS has turned out, so I think letting them make the next move would be fantastic idea.
Simple - to get things going.

If governments hadn't made a start on space programs (including Mir / ISS), I don't think that anyone would have taken up the challenge on the Ansari X-prize -- if it would even have come to pass.

India is now trying to get a space program "on the cheap" - compared to the kinds of budgets that were necessary for NASA initially (even if you factor in inflation over the past 40-50 years - their programs will be CHEAP).
But, if noone had done "the initial testing" (the "proof of concept"), going to space would likely be something that would sound - pardon the pun - far to "astronomic" for any investor to fund (just imagine, would kind of money would have to be raised in the private sector - and without knowing the outcome, what the potential risk factor would be). You might say, "well, they might start off with something smaller, than going to the moon", which is true - but very unlikely, as there aren't too many "intermediate steps" that would make sense to fund on their own, if you didn't know whether it would have a reasonable chance of success.

The simple fact that now we KNOW, from previous flights and flight experiments, which things have worked, and which ones (more or less famously) didn't, have helped bootstrapping efforts like those of the Ansari X-Prize contestants, and possibly other firms.

Many projects nowadays simply are several orders of magnitude too large for someone to try and run out of the back of their bike shops. And for the space program specifically, the initial potential gains for private companies are fairly little - as long as we're only talking Earth orbit, we're primarily talking about space tourism - not some other tangible market.

But, apart from coming up with the funding and initial experimentation, the private sector isn't so much interested in doing research for the common good - that will have to be funded publicly, and I do think we have learnt quite a lot from variouso space programs - Hubble, robotic study probes teaching us more about our neighbouring planets, and with that more about how the solar system evolved (most of this being still on a "Theory" level, but with more and more data we can gather, we learn more about whether our theories are correct, or the data will give us pointers as to where our assumptions are wrong).

Also, the private sector has little interest in those things that might stimulate the minds of generations to come (like dreaming of being astronauts, or the scientists making space travel possible, after seeing the first astronauts coming back); as there is no measurable profit in it in the meantime. Nope, nowadays we have more focus on kids wanting to be on "America's next top model", "pop idol" or similar type of 'my 15 minutes of fame' shows that don't help the human race as such, apart from profiting the companies running the shows...

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996556)

Let him go. There is no discussing intelligently with him. He is part of the Cassini project and is watching his work within 2 years and he has no where to go. For the last 30 years, NASA's primary focus has been robotics. Now, it is being re-tasked to Manned systems to jump start the lunar and martian exploration.All of your arguments will not matter to him.

As it is, his history was distorted. It was Europe's obsession with War is what caused Spain's problems, not exploration ( a lesson that seems to not be learned by so many over the eons ).

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 7 years ago | (#17997636)

Ah, someone who disagrees must inherently be irrational. You're up to ad hominem attacks now. Makes a person wonder who isn't worth arguing with.

NASA's primary focus has never really been robotics. The manned spaceflight initiatives have (either directly or indirectly) always taken up more of the budget than robotics. Cassini has another five years on it, after that I have plenty of options. I'm not worried about my funding in either the short or long term, I'm merely concerned about NASA's future and dollars that could have been better spent. If you're smart, you'll note that I've never said that that money should have been spent on robotics. Your personal attacks aside, I don't really expect to ever see much more funding to unmanned exploration than we're seeing now. I would have no problem with NASA spending the money on manned spaceflight if they weren't just flushing it down the toilet on projects that yield almost no results.

But by all means, ignore me. I disagree with you, therefore I must be an idiot. Either way, you're not making a very good case for your side (you've never answered the original question, I can't help but notice) and you're trying to start a flamewar. I see no need to continue this. (Now I know you're reply to this because your type loves to get in the last word. Go ahead, but if you do, remember that you're breaking your own stated belief that there's no point.)

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

beh (4759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17996058)

"But we need to get off this rock."

Really, why?
Call it risk management...

Look what Katrina did to New Orleans - and think about what, say, global warming could do to us -- or the next meteor striking Earth (though, we don't see any at this moment which look likely to hit us in the next few hundred years, that does not mean that something along those lines MIGHT still happen)?
Or - with us all being so interconnected through travelling, a new virus can spread around the globe in relatively little time - just remember when SARS broke out (which luckily wasn't all that easily communicable), but it did spread across countries in different parts of the world very, very quickly.

The more we spread out, the more we eliminate risks of some single incident wiping mankind off the map... (Yes, spreading out does have risks of its own, but in all for mankind to survive in the long run, I think sprawling out further and further can only be a good thing).

As long as we stay on one planet alone, we're pretty much "putting all eggs into one basket".

Furthermore, the more we get access to space, the less will we have to fight over ever more scarce resources on this planet. The oil reserves look comparatively fine right now, but it's a good question how long they will stay that way, looking at the current pace of economic growth in China and India - to just name the two largest players). Not that it's particularly likely we will find oil on a rock nearby (no plant growth -> no oil a few hundred millennia later) but there will certainly be other resources that WILL become more problematic for us to get our hands on.

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 7 years ago | (#17997730)

Again, I ask: how will terraforming another planet be any easier than fixing this one? As risk management strategies go, it's better to fix what you have rather than build a new one. (At a vastly higher cost.) That argument just doesn't work for me, I'm sorry.

And I've already covered resources. Unless we get a cheap way to get material up to orbit and down again, anything produced on other worlds will be more expensive than growing it, mining it, or building it here. At least until we find things we can't get on Earth, but I have yet to see anyone show me something that's worth going out there for.

Look, the main reason we're exploring space now is because it's cool and it's interesting. That's a fine reason and as long as taxpayers are being told what they're funding and why, I have no problem with it. It's when people make claims like the ones you've just repeated, promising wealth and safety that are not going to appear that I get concerned. The taxpayers and Congress aren't stupid: they won't pay for this stuff forever if they've being sold on a lie. Tell them the truth, tell them the cost, and then ask them to decide if it's worth it to them. It's not really that much to ask.

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

beh (4759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18009654)

A couple of points on what you wrote:

a) I didn't write anything about full scale terraforming (not even small scale)... We'd obviously have to live with whatever we find, and try and make sheltered regions of it habitable and self-sustainable.

b) I'm not trying to suggest to move everybody off this planet to another - my reference to risk management strategy was to sprawl out over multiple places, if possible. Fixing this planet is necessary if we are to stay here - but it's not a risk management issue to do so, as we would still keep all our eggs in one basket (Earth) if we "just" fixed this one, or "just" moved to a different ecosystem -- because in either situation, we'd only be in one planet.

c) "Tell them the truth, tell them the cost"... Yeah, I think many of us have repeatedly seen how well that works (Iraq just being the latest big example of "us" being told "the truth", and "the true cost". The only "truth" now seems to be that the "original truth" was a blatant lie, and that we don't have any idea about what the true cost will be in the end. With growing media influence, politicians are less and less interested in "doing the right thing", rather than doing whatever is necessary just trying to ensure they get re-elected... Being German, I can tell you some great stories about various governments telling us what to do just to get unemployment back down, each only paying minimal lip service to it (without measurable lasting success; and each of them afraid to really try something big to move, because big things cost a lot in the CURRENT legislative period, but will only pay off in FUTURE legislative period - i.e. nothing that will help the government to get re-elected for the next term.

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 7 years ago | (#18012128)

a) OK, if enough of the human race needed to keep the species going can live in shelters on, say, Mars, then why not build those shelters on Earth? Again, anything we can do on another planet to make it (or part of it) habitable we ought to be able to do on Earth for a lot less money.

b) I never suggested you were trying to say everyone should leave. But do be aware that a reasonable breeding population is at least a few thousand people if you want long-term genetic viability. (Last I saw an estimate for that, anyway. It may have changed, I'm not a biologist.) That's a decent-sized colony.

c) You're arguing for my point, not against it. Iraq is a mess largely in part because the public (and Congress) was lied to. Now the Administration has lost almost all of its support and if we didn't have troops there and we weren't worried about the problem becoming worse if we withdrew, Congress and the American public would insist on getting us out of there right now. For space exploration, the forces that would try to make us stay the course would be far, far less compelling to most people. When we get to the point where people feel like the project is a mess, is a waste of money, and was sold on a lie, there's not much to keep them from canceling it.

It's not done yet (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983356)

Hey, are we acually doing anything in that space station, except fixing it?

They're building it. Make as many analogies to building an office building as you like - they're all applicable. The trouble is while you can build a research facility on Earth in two years, it turns out with limited funding doing that 90 miles above the earth is somewhat harder. A 5x or 10x multiple doesn't seem all that bad if you look at it that way.

The biggest problem we're likely to encounter in this business of space exploration is impatience from folks who think that if you can get from London to Tokyo in a day, 3 months to Mars is just unreasonable.

Re:It's not done yet (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983638)

Although I've never been a big TV blamer in the past I did hear one convening argument that covers this type of thing. People have become so used to problems cropping up and being solved in a 1 hour show, that longer term, real projects like this, budget balances, war, etc... always seem to be run badly. If Rambo can run in save all the hostages kill off the bad guys and be home for dinner in 2 a hour movie why can't Iraq be settled and back up in running as it's own safe, secure little country. When SciFi was new it was inspiring. Now that it is so common place people are use to watching Star Trek people in space and wonder why the hell the space station is so difficult.

Everybody is affected by this as a whole. Public perception is a lot diffrent than personal understanding.

Re:It's not done yet (3, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983776)

Now that it is so common place people are use to watching Star Trek people in space and wonder why the hell the space station is so difficult.

Hey, it took them five tries to get the Babylon project working!

Seriously, though, you have a good point. Is it possible for a society to become so successful that its members lose the ability to do hard things?

I always figured Iraq would be a mess for seven years because that's how long it took to get things straightened out in Germany and Japan after WWII. But now the politicos are calling for a "Run Away!" strategy after four, and have been for two. I'm not a hawk, per se, but live isn't TiVo'ed.

Re:It's not done yet (1, Informative)

darkwhite (139802) | more than 7 years ago | (#17984424)

It absolutely did not take seven years to get Japan and Germany to a stable, safe, violence-free and rebuildable if heavily damaged condition.

Occupation of Japan and Germany preserved the power structure, did not facilitate ethnic and sectarian conflict as well as unrestricted religious extremism, and was well tolerated by the occupied populations. Japan's emperor, who had massive de facto authority over his people, supported the American occupants. Germany was immediately ripped and drawn into the immense power spheres of the Cold War participants, and its population was so utterly exhausted and unused to the idea of civil war that there was no room for internal instability. Both countries had exhausted their supplies of young, active men and had massive populations of old, highly experienced workers who had the expertise to rebuild the highly industrialized infrastructure. Both countries had advanced, secular societies with few internal tensions.

The US occupation of Iraq went terribly wrong because it did not account for a huge set of very important factors contrary to the above. The power vacuum after the invasion very quickly set off a chain reaction which will now be resolved in a bloody civil war.

MOD UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17984668)

Never seen a better explanation of why Iraq is so messed up compared to the former Axis powers. The grandparent post raised an interesting question -- is it possible/wise to become so successful that you lose the abilities that made you that way in the first place? -- and then attempted to support it with the ridiculous suggestion that a few more years spent doing the same thing over and over in Iraq is anything other than insanity.

Re:It's not done yet (3, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17984920)

It absolutely did not take seven years to get Japan and Germany to a stable, safe, violence-free and rebuildable if heavily damaged condition.

I'm not sure which events you're thinking of, but I'm thinking of the widespread starvation and the Warewolf insurgency in Germany in 1945 and 1946, the dismantling of German heavy industry which continued into the 50's, the Marshall Plan which ran through '51, and the reconstruction loans and military occupation which followed that through '55 - when Germany was finally stood up on its own and allowed to join NATO.

OK, so we were in there 11 years, not 7 (not counting our bases which are still there today).

In Japan we didn't really do as much to help them until we needed them in 1950 to fight the war in Korea, using Japan as a base of operations, and thereby stimulating the Japanese economy, bringing about the rise of Toyota, for instance.

Re:It's not done yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17985426)

Do you own a history book? Iraq was an artificial state to begin with -- a construct fashioned at the convenience of the British Empire in the 20th century. Germany and Japan were stable, monolithic societies.

What took 7 years in Germany and 5 years in Japan will take 100 years in Iraq... and you won't recognize the place when it finally does settle down. It'll be at least three different countries.

Re:It's not done yet (1)

VWJedi (972839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985196)

When SciFi was new it was inspiring. Now that it is so common place people are use to watching Star Trek people in space and wonder why the hell the space station is so difficult.

The same could be said about space expoloration as well. (i.e. "When space exploration was new it was inspiring.") When you've go a lot of firsts happening ("first in space", "first in orbit", "first on the moon"), it's a lot more exciting than saying "STS-1234567 will expand on what we did in STS-1234560". It's a lot harder to get people excited about the incremental increases in the knowledge / expertise of the current astronauts and space scientists.

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

zapwow (939754) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983562)

Short answer: nothing!

It's basically just a very expensive hotel - you can stay for $20M USD, but that only if you go through the Russians. For the States, it has produced zero revenue; for science, it has produced nothing of interest. Ever wondered why NASA projects to kill the funding over the next decade?

Re:What's that thing for? (4, Informative)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983826)

Keep in mind that the station was designed for a crew complement of seven. Right now it has three. Keeping the station running is requiring most of the attention of those three. This is not a surprise. What has been a surprise has been how long the construction has taken, which has (in part) prevented the other four crew members, who would be doing the bulk of the science work, from going up. Other hangups that have held things up: redirected funding, the grounding of the shuttle fleet, and the not-yet-complete crew escape vehicle.

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

z0idberg (888892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983912)

I think I heard somewhere that they are studying the effects of weightlessness on tiny screws.

Re:What's that thing for? (4, Informative)

iso-cop (555637) | more than 7 years ago | (#17984378)

Why yes, I am glad you asked. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/science/ index.html [nasa.gov] will get you to the weekly science overview and the current expedition science overview. You get all this while the place is still under construction. Just think when a crew of six is available with full laboratory environments in the next few years. By the way, http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structur e/iss_manifest.html [nasa.gov] gives a summary run down on when to expect new capabilities to be in place.

Context: Re-wired last week (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986906)

For those not following the ISS program closely, you should know that significant parts of the ISS power system were rewired last week. This may be related to that, and I have pretty good confidence they'll get it figured out and be fully able to avoid related problems in the future.

The original portion of the space station received a limited amount of power from small solar panels on the Russian Zvezda and Zarya modules. In 2002 (IIRC), NASA installed the first of 4 large, primary solar panels. This was a high priority to useful amounts of power beyond basic subsistance, so the truss structure that these mount on was not in place yet. The first panel was mounted in a temporary location on top of the station, as opposed to its eventual location at the end of a large truss which extends from either side.

After having installed said truss, last fall, Discovery carried up the second of these solar panels, and installed in it's proper location. The panel already in place will eventually be connected to the end of this one. 3 space walks were conducted last week, focusing largely on preparing the electrical and cooling system connections on this panel for moving it to its final location.

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987008)

At this moment, the bulk of the time is spent doing upkeep. That is because the there are only 2 ppl on it except during exchanges. When the crew jumps to 4 or 5, we will see a lot more science come about. The crew jump will occur when more power and ships are available. In fact, the most important item is needing an emergency ship. I suspect that in late 2008, early 2009, NASA and the ISS team will announce that Bigelow is going to attach 1 (or more) of their units to the station. In addition, I think that spacex's dragon will be used for transport as well as the emergency ship. At that time, you will then have 7-12 living there. Pretty useful.

Until then, the ISS is serving as a lab on how to live in space. You can bet on it that nearly all of the central systems (or mods thereof) will be used for the lunar habitats. Keep in mind, that once we go there, it will be much more difficult to send a rescue.

Re:What's that thing for? (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987542)

Hey, are we acually doing anything in that space station, except fixing it?


Not really. Keeping the ISS running requires two and a half people. The original plan called for a crew of nine, which would mean plenty of science being done as well. If the crew is only two people, guess what?

Hey Bob.... (0)

shirizaki (994008) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982986)

What does this switch do?

Don't touch that! (2, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983054)

It's the History Eraser Button, you fool!!!

isolated? not likely. (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983056)

They are still investigating what caused the glitch, but they believe it was an isolated event.

"I'm afraid I can't let you do that, Dave."

They went ahead and (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983698)

"fixed" the "glitch." Little do they know that Crusher's nanites are continuing to eat their way into the computer core.

Re:They went ahead and (2, Funny)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983790)

I think that an Office Space Milton joke would have been a better fit.

Re:They went ahead and (1)

GreenEnvy22 (1046790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17984186)

I concur, thats what came to my mind anyway.

OB Star Trek Refrence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17983734)

"We need more power Scotty"

Good thing they managed to fix it (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17983766)

.. or the aliens would have started hatching, and that would really have hurt the budgets

I don't really see why anyone is surprised... (2, Insightful)

Akardam (186995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17984032)

... least of all NASA.

Why, even if we look at a best case supposition for the future, the mostly-utopian Star Trek, do you see Scotty, LaForge, or O'Brien cooling their heels all the time? Of course not. They're always replacing this or fixing that or realigning this or repolarizing that and heaven help us if they have to remodulate something. And if they have to do this all the time, it's a wonder NASA has as few problems as they do.

Just remember, a busy engineer is a happy engineer.

Re:I don't really see why anyone is surprised... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986480)

a busy engineer may be a happy engineer but the fact that you need one constantly indicates only one thing -- bad design. when you have something that just works you can concentrate on doing something productive -- like actually do some research or whatever crap the ISS is supposed to be doing this week -- instead of fixing stuff that constantly breaks.
the ISS seems to be a lot worse than my GMC truck which still breaks down every month or 3000 miles whichever is sooner. at least they shoulda asked for toyota to build em a space station.

LATE Payment Notice (0)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985274)

What really happened is that NASA was late in paying its electric bill to run the space station. The Electric company sent out a field tech. who toggled to breaker in the switch box. It is done all the time at apartment complexes to help remind people to pay their bills on time.
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