Published: Fri, May 03, 2019
Science | By

On the ISS there is a problem with the power supply

SpaceX's launch of its Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday has been delayed due to a major power shortage that occurred on Monday. But because of the hobbled solar-power grid, the SpaceX launch is off until at least Friday.

Unlike Russian Progress supply ships that fly themselves all the way in to docking at one of four Russian ports at the station, the Dragon relies on the US segment's 50-foot-long robot arm to capture it and pull it in for berthing at the Earth-facing port of the forward Harmony module.

It will allow time for NASA's flight controllers to troubleshoot an issue in the space station's electrical power system.

The launch had been set for as early as 3:59 a.m. Wednesday, but it has now been changed to 3:11 a.m. Friday, with a potential to move again to Saturday if weather is bad.

CanadArm 2 robotic arm While the power issue is not affecting the six astronauts aboard the space station, it does affect the station's big robot arm outside.

There's no rush for this delivery. Electrical power generated by the station's solar arrays is fed to all station systems through those power channels.

They were able to re-route power as needed to keep critical systems operating normally, but were unable to provide a redundant power source for the robot arm.

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

Six weeks after a successful test flight without a crew to the space station, the Dragon was engulfed in flames during a ground test. SpaceX was in the process of firing the capsule's thrusters on a test stand. But the accident is sure to delay launching a crew Dragon with two NASA astronauts on board.

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