Mir Computer System Fails, but Crew Is Not in Danger

From Associated Press

The main computer system on the troubled Mir space station failed Monday for the third time in three months, forcing the crew to shut down much of the station’s power.

The two Russians and one American on board were not in danger, and the crew hoped to bring the computer back up today, said Vladimir Solovev, chief of Russia’s Mission Control.

Asked what caused the latest computer malfunction, Solovev responded: “Do you know why your car breaks down?”

The computer shut itself off about 11 a.m. Monday (midnight PDT), and the crew responded by turning off most systems to economize on power, said Valery Lyndin, spokesman for Russia’s Mission Control just outside Moscow.


Russian space officials played down the latest problem, with Lyndin saying the 11-year-old computer has “become capricious again” and Solovev noting that the crew and the ground staff knew how to fix it.

“We will download the necessary information into [the computer] to restore it to working order tomorrow,” Solovev said.

In past computer breakdowns, the loss of the Mir’s orientation system has left the space station tumbling in orbit. This time, however, cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov said the Mir was maintaining its proper position, according to the Interfax news agency.

The crew reported having enough power for normal operations but had turned off all systems not immediately needed, including the Elektron oxygen-generating system.