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Space

Space Station Suffers Power Glitch 53

Posted by Hemos
from the bad-times-in-space dept.
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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Space Station Suffers Power Glitch

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  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Monday February 12, 2007 @11:06AM (#17982770)
    Hey, are we acually doing anything in that space station, except fixing it?
    • by creimer (824291) on Monday February 12, 2007 @11:16AM (#17982888) Homepage
      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.
      • by dammy (131759)
        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
      • by rishistar (662278)
        And, in break with horror movie tradition, the actresses for these forthcoming movies aren't being asked to scream during their auditions.
    • Yes...

      I mean, no.
    • by CRCulver (715279)
      They're seeing if ants can drive tiny screws in space. The research has all kinds of ramifications from watch-making to watch-repair.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 12, 2007 @11:19AM (#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: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by pimpimpim (811140)
        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.

    • by beh (4759) * on Monday February 12, 2007 @11:20AM (#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!"...
      • 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.)
        • 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

          • "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).
            • 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 pri
              • by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Monday February 12, 2007 @10:25PM (#17991970) Homepage

                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.)
                • by beh (4759) *

                  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 con

                  • 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
                    • 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
            • by beh (4759) *

              "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 wa

              • 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 ca
                • by beh (4759) *
                  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
                  • 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
    • It's not done yet (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday February 12, 2007 @11:50AM (#17983356) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • by ArsonSmith (13997)
        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 Sc
        • Re:It's not done yet (Score:4, Interesting)

          by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday February 12, 2007 @12:21PM (#17983776) Homepage Journal
          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: (Score:2, Informative)

            by darkwhite (139802)
            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
            • Re:It's not done yet (Score:4, Informative)

              by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:42PM (#17984920) Homepage Journal
              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.
        • by VWJedi (972839)

          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

    • by necro81 (917438) on Monday February 12, 2007 @12:25PM (#17983826) Journal
      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.
    • by z0idberg (888892)
      I think I heard somewhere that they are studying the effects of weightlessness on tiny screws.
    • by iso-cop (555637) on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:07PM (#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.
    • 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
    • by Carnildo (712617)

      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?
  • What does this switch do?
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday February 12, 2007 @11:28AM (#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."
  • "fixed" the "glitch." Little do they know that Crusher's nanites are continuing to eat their way into the computer core.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    .. or the aliens would have started hatching, and that would really have hurt the budgets
  • by Akardam (186995) on Monday February 12, 2007 @12:41PM (#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.
  • 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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