July 15, 2011

Astronauts Fix Shuttle Computer

One of space shuttle Atlantis' five computers was investigated by NASA on Friday after it failed sometime late Thursday, setting off an alarm and awakening astronauts.

NASA said General Purpose Computer (GPC) 4 "was being used as the systems management computer when it failed at 6:07 pm EDT (2207 GMT) Thursday, generating an alarm that awakened the Atlantis crew."

Shuttle commander Christopher Ferguson and his co-pilot, Douglas Hurley, loaded new software into one of Atlantis' main computers before going back to sleep 45 minutes later, NASA said.

The agency later announced that the shuttle crew reloaded software into GPC 4 and that it was "operating normally."

It was the second computer to fail on the mission. Over the weekend, a different main computer failed, and was also restarted successfully.

These main computers are critical, especially for the return flight home, scheduled for sometime late next week. It is the final mission of the 30-year space shuttle program.

"Mission Control is evaluating the 'dump' of data from the computer that Atlantis transmitted earlier this morning to determine what caused the Thursday evening failure," NASA said in a statement.

If one of the primary computers had failed and could not be restarted, the agency said there was a fifth GPC with backup software that was available for use on the shuttle. 


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