We use computers or a similar technology such as a smartphone or any smart gadget in our daily lives. We use it for personal use, school, work, or leisure. The popularity of these smart gadgets has brought the World Wide Web even closer to the masses, thus the use of social media and the Internet has also catapulted into fame. Today, you can’t see a home without a personal computer or laptop to help them stay connected to the web.
These tech advances are even more crucial when it comes to space technology. Flying rockets, manning the space station, and sending astronauts or robots to explore uncharted planets is a big risk and challenge you can’t just easily do so without the help of advanced computing technology. Unfortunately, the technology is not always reliable and problems arise that requires immediate solutions because these trips to space aren’t just risky but mighty expensive too.
The primary device failed on Saturday, leaving the $100bn orbiting laboratory to depend on a backup system to route commands to its solar power system, radiators, cooling loops and other equipment.
The station’s current five-member crew from the United States, Russia and France were never in any danger, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said in a statement.
Station commander Peggy Whitson and flight engineer Jack Fischer, both with NASA, will partner for the spacewalk, which is expected to last two hours, the US space agency said.
Earlier on Sunday, Whitson assembled and tested a spare electronics box to replace the failed device, which had been installed during a spacewalk on 30 March, said NASA spokesman Dan Huot.
NASA’s last emergency spacewalk took place in December 2015 when two US astronauts left the station to release the brakes on a robot arm’s mobile transporter.
Modern technical computing devices are crucial to the success of space launches and the various space exploration programs. It is not an easy feat to send a man to space or make sure they survive the long months manning the International Space Station. They need sophisticated computing technology that can keep them safe all the time and not use an untested technology that will not only compromise the mission but endanger their lives too.
The 50-pound data relay box, known as a multiplexer-demultiplexer, or MDM, is one of two “tier 2” command and control computers mounted in the station’s power truss that route commands to a variety of critical systems and relay telemetry from them to the ground. While the one operational tier 2 MDM can handle the full load, NASA managers opted to replace the failed box as soon as possible to restore full redundancy.
And so, Whitson and Fischer will venture back outside just 11 days after completing their most recent excursion on May 12, switching their spacesuits to battery power around 8 a.m. to officially kick off U.S. EVA-43.
Whitson checked out a replacement MDM Sunday and she will install it by herself Tuesday, working on the front side of the station’s power truss. The box is about the size of a small microwave oven.
While Whitson focuses on replacing the failed MDM, Fischer will mount two antennas on the Earth-facing side of the Destiny laboratory module to improve communications with spacewalkers.
You see just how big of an impact computers have on space missions especially when they don’t work out as planned. In this case, the problem was said to be a hardware issue. The space station actually uses as many as 44 MDM computers that have total control of everything in the lab. When one of them fails to work, it can be disastrous to everyone on board so it must be taken cared of immediately. Hence, there is the need for the urgent spacewalk by no other than Whitson herself who also installed the device about a couple of months ago to ensure everyone’s safety.
While only a handful of people get the rare opportunity to work as professional astronauts, many of us deal with computers every day. Like the incident in space, the hard drive is also one of the most vulnerable components of your computer and its failure can be disastrous especially if you don’t have a backup in place.