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Flight Controllers Regain Communication with Computers on Space Station


Flight controllers in Moscow have been able to establish contact with critically important computers aboard the International Space Station. The computers that control among other things oxygen and water supply, went down the day before. VOA's Jessica Berman reports from Washington.

Russian ground controllers have regained partial communication with the computers aboard the international space station's Russian Zarya module. The computers are responsible for such operations as orientation, navigation, and water and oxygen supplies.

The computers failed early Wednesday as astronauts began working on retraction of one of the solar arrays.

Flight director Holly Ridings says controllers working through the night in Moscow are now able to send and receive signals from the computers.

"They have made a lot of progress overnight and there is still clean up stuff to do, and some investigation," she said.

Mission controllers still do not know what caused the computer crash aboard the space station.

Officials say normally, the computers reboot themselves in the event of a crash.

NASA says it might have to extend the mission of shuttle Atlantis, which is docked at the space station, to help fix the problem. The scheduled 11-day mission has already been extended to 13 days to repair a heat protection blanket that came loose during lift off.

In the meantime, the shuttle is helping the orbiting laboratory maintain its position in space by periodically firing its thrusters.

In a worst-case scenario, NASA says, the space station could be evacuated if the problem cannot be fixed.