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Power Shortage in ISS Delays SpaceX Supply Run

Solar wings collect and generate electricity for the entire space station. Any breakdown in this critical system can cut into power and affect operations.

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NASA
In this photo provided by NASA, NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques float outside the International Space Station, Monday, April 8, 2019, as they tackle battery and cable work. VOA

A major power shortage at the International Space Station has delayed this week’s SpaceX supply run.

SpaceX was supposed to launch a shipment Wednesday. But an old power-switching unit malfunctioned at the space station Monday and knocked two power channels offline. The six remaining power channels are working normally, according to NASA.

NASA stressed Tuesday that the station and its six astronauts are safe. But because of the hobbled solar-power grid, the SpaceX launch is off until at least Friday. NASA wants to replace the failed unit to restore full power, before sending up the SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule.

FILE - The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule approaches the International Space Station, March 3, 2019.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule approaches the International Space Station, March 3, 2019. VOA

The breakdown has left the station’s big robot arm outside with one functioning power channel instead of two. Two power sources are required — one as a backup — when the robot arm is used to capture visiting spacecraft like the Dragon.

Flight controllers will use the robot arm to replace the bad unit with a spare later this week, saving the astronauts from going out on a spacewalk.

There’s no rush for this delivery. Northrop Grumman launched supplies two weeks ago.

Solar wings collect and generate electricity for the entire space station. Any breakdown in this critical system can cut into power and affect operations.

SpaceX, meanwhile, is still investigating this month’s fiery loss of its new Dragon capsule designed for astronauts.

 

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SpaceX and NASA have offered few details. But the accident is sure to delay launching a crew Dragon with two NASA astronauts on board. SpaceX had been aiming for a summertime flight. Pixabay

Six weeks after a successful test flight without a crew to the space station, the crew Dragon was engulfed in flames during a ground test. SpaceX was in the process of firing the capsule’s thrusters on a test stand. The April 20 accident — which occurred right before or during the firing of the launch-abort thrusters — sent thick smoke billowing into the sky.

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SpaceX and NASA have offered few details. But the accident is sure to delay launching a crew Dragon with two NASA astronauts on board. SpaceX had been aiming for a summertime flight.

The company still needs to conduct a launch-abort test, before astronauts strap in. The Dragon that flew last month was supposed to be used for this test in June. (VOA)

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Elon Musk Mocks Bezos’ Moon, Space Colony Plans

Earlier in May, Bezos unveiled a new Moon-lander called “Blue Moon” after three years of development

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Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. Wikimedia

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has mocked Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos’ moon plans saying they make no sense.

Amazon CEO Bezos had described his vision of humans living on miles-long, orbiting space stations called “O’Neill colonies”, named after physicist Gerard O’Neill, who first floated the concept.

“Makes no sense. In order to grow the colony, you’d have to transport vast amounts of mass from planets/moons/asteroids. Would be like trying to build the US in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean,” Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla, tweeted.

Elon Musk, tesla, tunnel
AI could be first ‘resident’ of Mars, hints Musk. (Wikimedia Commons)

The remark comes after Bezos attended a conference in Washington where he discussed his ambitious roadmap for Blue Origin to create a “sustained human presence” – housing up to a trillion people – on the Moon, the report added.

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Earlier in May, Bezos unveiled a new Moon-lander called “Blue Moon” after three years of development, along with a smaller rover at the Walter E. Washington Convention Centre.

“We must return to the Moon – this time to stay. We’re ready to support @NASA in getting there by 2024 with #bluemoon,” Blue Origin had tweeted. (IANS)