Monday, July 11, 2011

Failed Shuttle Atlantis Computer Recovered

A failed shuttle computer was resuscitated today as the Atlantis astronauts bolted a supply-filled Italian moving van onto the U.S. side of the International Space Station.

The faulty General Purpose Computer is one of five on the shuttle. It failed prior to the Atlantis rendezvous and docking at the station Sunday. A glitchy switch was blamed.

Flight controllers reinstalled software on the computer today and put it back into operation along with the other four data processors. A similar problem plagued the same computer when Atlantis delivered the European Columbus laboratory to the station in early 2008.

The shuttle can operate with only a single computer running. But the loss of three of the five GPCs would prompt a return to Earth at the earliest opportunity.

The computer recovery work was performed as Atlantis mission specialist Sandra Magnus and pilot Doug Hurley used the station's robot arm to hoist the Raffaello cargo carrier out of the shuttle's payload bay and then berthed it to the Earth-facing side of the U.S. Harmony module.

Sixteen motor-driven bolts were activated on the port's common berthing mechanism to latch the Raffaello module firmly in place. A series of leak checks will be carried out to ensure a tight seal. The module is to be activated and opened later today.

Shuttle mission commander Chris Ferguson and his crew, which also includes mission specialist Rex Walheim, will spend the next week unpacking the Raffaello module, which holds a year's worth of food and supplies. More than 5,600 pounds of surplus station gear and trash will be packed back into the module for a return to Earth.

1 comment:

Mark Lopa said...

What's going to happen to the Raffaello module once it's back on Earth?