Space shuttle powers down

first_imgCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Cameras, computer laptops and some lights on space shuttle Atlantis were turned off Thursday to save energy in case it needs to stay an extra day at the International Space Station to help maintain the outpost’s orientation. Engineers continued to study why the Russian computers which control orientation and oxygen production at the space station failed Tuesday. While Atlantis is still docked, its thrusters can help, if needed, to maintain the station’s position while computers are down. Gyroscopes on the U.S. side of the space station also were helping maintain orientation, but they can’t do the job full time. Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations, called the chances of abandoning the space station because of the computer problem “remote.” “These sorts of things happen,” said astronaut Ed Lu, who lived at the space station for six months in 2003. “I don’t think it’s that serious.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “We’re still a long way from where we would have to de-man the space station,” Gerstenmaier said. Currently, there are seven visiting space shuttle astronauts and three crew members living at the space station, which is operated primarily by the Russian and U.S. space agencies, with contributions from Canada, Europe and Japan. Atlantis and its seven astronauts are slated to leave on Tuesday, but NASA managers were considering adding a day at the space station to give engineers more time to figure out the problem with the Russian computers. The mission had already been extended from 11 to 13 days to repair a thermal blanket that peeled during launch. “It will not be quick, unless we get lucky right away and find the problem,” Gerstenmaier said. This type of massive computer failure had never been seen before on the space station, although individual computers do fail periodically. last_img read more