Emergency spacewalk on ISS to replace electronics relay box

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Astronauts will perform an emergency spacewalk on May 23 to replace the failed MDM electronics relay box that failed on Saturday.

So, they have a spare on board, which is good. The article does note, however, that the unit that failed had only been installed less than two months ago, on March 30. This is not good. These units should last longer than two months, especially considering how critical they appear to be.



  • Mike

    They talk about cosmic rays and such but I have never heard anyone address the spares issue – although
    I am sure someone must have thought about it.

    Once you burn for Mars it’s a long way to the hardware store.

  • Diane Wilson

    “Just a moment… Just a moment. I’ve just picked up a fault in the AE-35 unit. It’s going to go 100 percent failure within 72 hours.”

  • Tom Billings

    I wonder, what has happened to NASA’s vaunted quality control?! This argues for far better on-station repair and re-manufacture abilities. It seems that Russian rocket engine manufacturers are not the only ones having problems.

    Whatever the logistical stretch is, we need far better on-board manufacturing capabilities than have been spoken of for convoys headed out into the Solar System. We need not bring along a full chip Fab factory to elevate crew and passengers above the level of what some Mac repair personnel described themselves as, …”brain-dead board changers”. Since the synodic schedules of planetary flights will mean lots of time in orbit or on the surface at settlement sites for re-usable spaceships, and any self-contained manufacturing capabilities could be put to use by settlers the ships just delivered.

  • Edward

    I wouldn’t worry that the astronauts and cosmonauts will become “brain-dead board changers” any time soon. In addition to being experts in spacewalks and the many activities of extravehicular activities, the article notes that they also have to be experts in running the ISS’s experiments in “biology, life science, materials science and physics experiments, as well as astronomical observations and Earth remote sensing.” Maybe Macs are repairable by the brain-dead, but astronauts and cosmonauts (including Chinese taikonauts and French spationauts) have to be masters-of-all-trades.

    It may be possible that astronauts feel that a brain-dead person could accomplish any one of their tasks (but I doubt it), but it takes a very active, intelligent brain to know the wide variety of things that these people know in order to do their jobs.

    (Tom, I know you were kidding, but I recently learned “spationaut” and wanted a reason to use it.)

    Speaking of going to Mars and the hazards and technologies needed to accomplish it, even with failing equipment, Americans once did the impossible with less preparation than we now have for going to Mars. The real challenge is keeping the astronauts alive and the equipment working for the duration of the journey.

    Rosene writes: “There are those who claim that there is too much more work and research to be done before such a commitment can be made. But when Kennedy and Congress took up the public challenge of landing on the moon we had in hand precious few of the technologies needed to get us there. America had not yet even placed a man into orbit (two weeks before Kennedy’s speech, Alan Shepard became the first American in space in a flight lasting only about 15 minutes). In contrast, today we have done nearly everything required for a flight to Mars.

    In his speech at Rice University, Kennedy listed several challenges to meet in going to the Moon. We have fewer challenges to meet now, just a longer, scarier voyage farther from home. It seems that the government, today, is not bold enough to brave the remaining challenges and dangers.

    Perhaps Trump will hire SpaceX, Bigelow, and a couple other companies. Or perhaps SpaceX is bold enough to do it alone, without Trump, and is willing to do it for corporate prestige, rather than the US doing it for national prestige. A 2024 Mars mission timeline is similar to the one in which we went to the Moon. It is not as difficult to do, if we are dedicated to the project.

    And the astronauts will still have to be masters-of-all-trades.

  • wayne

    good stuff!

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