Sunday, April 25, 2004

New Scientist: Second gyroscope fails aboard space station

13:05 23 April 04
"The second of four gyroscopes used to keep the International Space Station steady in orbit has failed. If a third gyroscope breaks down - and one has shown signs of suffering from lubrication problems - the crew will have to use rocket thrusters to stabilise the outpost. There is only a limited supply of fuel onboard."
Although this failure is in the controller (the first failure was in the actual gyro), the space shuttle is needed to replace the gyros because of their huge weight. Yet, the shuttles only have a few more missions to go before they're retired. This is another example of the potenial disasterous outcome of the U.S. government failing to plan ahead. They failed to fund proper maintenance and replacement of the shuttle fleet. Hubble will be taken out of service because NASA can't waste a scarce shuttle mission to do maintenance. Even if the money is turned on now, it is too late. All of this takes years to happen (and several administrations). (See also GAO-04-203 (Jan 2004) "Space Shuttle: Further Improvements Needed in NASA’s Modernization Efforts", pointed out on Aerade)

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