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Noise Suspected As Cause of Computer Failure on ISS

15 June 2007

Officials of the US space agency NASA say mission controllers now suspect that noise from a newly-installed segment caused a massive computer crash within the International Space Station's Russian Zarya module. VOA's Jessica Berman has more from Washington.

NASA officials say the six command and control computers aboard the International Space Station's (ISS) Russian module were made several years ago by a German company (Daimler-Benz).

Space officials say the devices, which crashed on Wednesday, are extremely sensitive to the sound of static.

They say the noise probably occurred when a new truss was powered up after space shuttle Atlantis astronauts installed a solar array to provide energy to the international space station.

"It seems like shortly after we made those connections our Russians colleagues started to have a problem, and that would indict to some degree perhaps the power system that we'd just connected up one of the sources of this noise that's causing the computers to trip," said Mike Suffredini, ISS program manager for NASA.

Suffredini says the US space station module is cutting power to the truss in the hope that it will help bring the Russian computers back on line.

Since they went down on Wednesday, mission controllers in Moscow have only been able to regain partial communication with the critical computers, which control navigation, orientation, and water and oxygen supplies.

But Suffredini says he's optimistic the engineers will be able to bring the computers back on line.

"I do fully expect we will sort this out over the next few days and be able to get back to normal operations," he said.

In the meantime, Atlantis astronauts have been instructed to power down all non-essential devices in the event that the shuttle needs to stay an extra day to aid the space station.

On Friday, the Atlantis astronauts will attempt to repair a damaged thermal blanket that tore during the shuttle's take off one week ago.

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