ISS emergency: Nasa astronauts scrambled for spacewalk as critical computer fails

22 May, 2017, 16:34 | Author: Sam Montgomery
  • Saving time in space

Two NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are set to conduct an emergency spacewalk tomorrow to replace a failed data relay box that controls some of the key hardware on the orbital outpost.

The MDM, one of two located on the outside of the station's S0 segment of the station's backbone-like main truss, controls exterior US systems, including solar arrays, cooling loops, radiators and other equipment. NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Shane Kimbrough had installed this multiplexer/demultiplexer (MDM) device on March 30 during her spacewalk. It was installed less than two months ago, but the reason for the failure is unknown beyond the fact it is "internal to the box itself".

"The other MDM in the truss is functioning perfectly, providing uninterrupted telemetry routing to the station's systems", the statement said. It is a fully redundant system and ISS is now running as expected using the backup box.

An external comms box on the International Space Station has failed, leading NASA to schedule its first unscheduled spacewalk since 2015.

However, they will have to rely on a backup power system until the repairs, expected to take up to two hours, can take place. The antenna installation task was originally planned for the last spacewalk on May 12.

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This will be Whitson's 10th spacewalk and Fischer's second.

The spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. CST.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, which will be launched atop the Falcon 9 rocket, will carry and deliver crew supplies, equipment and scientific research to astronauts who live aboard the ISS. It flies about 420 kilometers (250 miles) above Earth and orbits the planet once about every 90 minutes.

The space station has been staffed with rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts from the 15 different nations owning the facility.

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