That's It, No More Backups
One day after the new tenants arrived aboard the International
Space Station, NASA says a second of four critical gyroscopes used
to stabilize the station has failed. While the ISS can operate on
just two gyros, the failure means there is no longer a margin of
"This is not a crew safety issue," NASA spokesman Kelly
Humphries told ANN. "There are still two functining gyros on orbit
and we have the Russian propulsion system (from the Soyuz
spacecraft which is currently docked with the ISS) to maintain
NASA reports the gyro lost power at 2018 GMT Wednesday night
(4:18 pm EDT). "What happened is something tripped a power switch,"
said Humphries. "It's been off since then. But we believe the gyro
One of the gyros failed during Expedition 6, Humphries said.
While the station can operate on as few as two gyros without
beginning to tumble, one of the two still-functioning gyros has
been signalling trouble lately, indicating that it's not getting
enough lubrication, he said.
"The crew was informed about the failure during their (Thursday)
morning briefing," Humphries said, speaking by phone from the
Johnson Space Center in Houston (TX). "They voiced confidence that
this can be repaired."
Just how the gyro can
be repaired, however, remains an issue. Crew members could perform
a space walk to get to the gyro's power control unit. But there's a
problem: Space rookie Michael Fincke's Russian space suit won't fit
through the US airlock, which is closest to the area in question.
And his Russian suit isn't altogether aboard yet.
"He needs gloves, I think," said Humphries. "They're not due
until the next resupply mission. There are complete suits on board
the station, but they're not fitted specifically for Fincke."
Even with the gloves, Fincke, along with mission commander
Gennady Padalka, would have to exit the station from the Russian
airlock, much further away from the area where the gyroscope's
power module is located.
Humphries said American and Russian controllers and scientists
are "exploring options" right now and have not yet decided how they
will address the issue of the second failed gyroscope. He had no
idea when any decisions would be made or what options were under