Satellites make noises in space

Space travel : Craft lesson in space

Washington / Moscow Race against time: Even three days after the mysterious computer crash on the International Space Station, two out of three Russian computer systems are going crazy - including the central on-board computer. However, the experts have made a step forward in researching the cause. The computers manufactured by Daimler-Benz in the Russian part of the ISS reacted sensitively to noises and switched themselves off automatically, said ISS flight director Mike Suffredini in the control center of the US space agency Nasa in Houston (Texas).

Compared to the computer crash, the other problems for the seven-person crew of the American space shuttle "Atlantis" look comparatively simple. Today the US astronaut Danny Olivas wants to repair a damaged insulating mat on the rear of the space shuttle. As with stapling a long wound, the torn mat should be stapled together with the one next to it. Then Olivas and Jim Reilly were supposed to fold up an old, stubborn solar sail.

Like the "whine" of a cell phone

According to previous theory, electromagnetic fields and interference from cables or devices cause the three command, control and navigation computers to crash. It can be compared, for example, to the "squeaking" when a mobile phone is right next to a television, said Suffredini.

With the help of the Russian computer, commands for major course corrections of the ISS are given so that, among other things, the awnings can align themselves correctly. As long as the "Atlantis" is docked, there are no problems, according to NASA. The space shuttle can also keep course with its engines.

Wednesday absolutely the last day of departure for the shuttle crew

Next Tuesday, the seven-person crew should actually take the flight back to Earth. According to the new emergency planning, Wednesday is now the absolutely last day of departure. In order for this to work at all, NASA saves energy in its space shuttle. For example, the robot arm and all unnecessary systems would be switched off overnight, said Shuttle flight director Cathy Koerner. The oxygen supplies planned for the ISS would also not be discharged.

For the nine men and one woman on the ISS, the daily routine gets mixed up. Some - like Oleg Kotov - were more likely to be awakened. Unlike NASA, the Russians do not have a satellite in space that communicates with the ISS. Therefore, there is only contact when the space station flies within range of Russian ground stations. And that was in the middle of the night.

Troubleshooting: "The Eureka moment has never happened"

Others, like US astronaut Sunita Williams, plug cables in and out. The problem with the computer crashes emerged after the new segment of solar panels was attached to the ISS. Using the "trial and error" method, the crew is now researching which cable or which energy source is the troublemaker. "The Eureka moment has not happened yet," said ISS flight director Holly Ridings the Internet space portal of "Florida Today".

Meanwhile, both NASA and the Russian experts warned against exaggerated emergency scenarios. "There is no reason to dramatize the situation or stir up emotions," said the spokesman for the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Igor Panarin, in Moscow. "We're already doing the right thing." In the flight control center near Moscow, the best Russian computer specialists are working on a solution, said Panarin. "You just need a little more time."

Such computer problems are nothing special for the Russians. Such difficulties have also been solved several times on the Mir space station, which was sunk in 2001, according to the flight control center near Moscow. The Russians and the deputy NASA director Bill Gerstenmaier consider the risk of an evacuation to be extremely low. (By Stefan Voss and Hans Dahne, dpa)

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