Tuesday, November 17, 2015

International Space Station Suffers Power Failure

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren uses a HAM radio onboard the ISS to speak with operators down on Earth. Credit: NASA

The International Space Station suffered a small power failure on Friday, however there is no danger to the crew from this glitch, NASA stated. A short circuit in equipment on the station's framework is to blame. The short apparently tripped a current-switching device, resulting in the loss of one of eight channels used to power the orbiting lab. The affected systems were switched to alternate lines.

All orbital controls and communications are up despite the failure of one of the station's eight power channels, according to a NASA blog post mentioning the event. "Ground teams are discussing future repair plans and are currently able to manage the power balance for the foreseeable future," the post read.

The trip in Direct Current Switching Unit 1B occurred around 18:00 UTC on Friday and knocked out one eighth of the Station’s total power, taking down one power channel. With one channel down, ISS still has seven good power supply channels which can carry all loads, permitting nominal operations to continue after loads have been re-balanced. A power management plan may be implemented to ensure margins for the individual channels are being protected, but all essential systems will receive continuous power.

No good spare parts for the job are on board. NASA plans to launch a replacement on a SpaceX delivery scheduled sometime early next year. SpaceX has been grounded since a failed launch in June.

Once the part is delivered to the station, astronauts will likely have to do a spacewalk to replace the broken part and get the power channel running again.

NASA's other commercial supplier, Orbital ATK, is on track to make a station shipment in just over two weeks following a one-year hiatus caused by its own launch explosion. But that cargo carrier is already packed for flight.

Orbital remains grounded at Wallops Island, Virginia, scene of the October 2014 accident, but is relying on another rocket maker to deliver the goods from Cape Canaveral on Dec. 3 aboard an Atlas V.

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