Space station computer outage demands spacewalk

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Space station computer outage demands spacewalk
FILE - This Tuesday, March 26, 2013 file photo provided by NASA shows the release of the SpaceX Dragon-2 spacecraft from the International Space Station. A delayed supply run to the International Space Station is now set to launch April 14, 2014. The private company SpaceX will be making its fourth trip to the space station from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The launch was postponed twice in March, the last time because of an electrical short on Air Force ground equipment. NASA announced the new launch date on Friday, April 4, 2014. The moon is at background center. (AP Photo/NASA)
FILE - This May 23, 2011 photo released by NASA shows the International Space Station at an altitude of approximately 220 miles above the Earth, taken by Expedition 27 crew member Paolo Nespoli from the Soyuz TMA-20 following its undocking. A computer outage at the International Space Station may require a spacewalk by astronauts and threatens to delay next week's launch of a commercial supply ship for NASA. NASA said Friday night April 11, 2014 that a backup computer on the outside of the orbiting lab is not responding to commands. (AP Photo/NASA, Paolo Nespoli)
Selfies... in space. First Instagram post from International Space Station http://t.co/n7Wr9pyeSY http://t.co/0L5g0zmayh
Space Station Over Earth (NASA, International Space Station, 03/07/11)
International Space Station Over Earth (NASA, 08/19/07)
Russian Soyuz-FG rocket with the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft and a crew of US astronaut Steven Swanson, Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev aboard, blasts off from a launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, early on March 26, 2014. A crew of two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut blasted off today from Kazakhstan on a Russian Soyuz rocket for the International Space Station, with US-Russia space cooperation pressing on despite the diplomatic standoff over Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV (Photo credit should read VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)
The crew members of a mission to the International Space Station (ISS), US astronaut Steven Swanson (L), Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov (C) and Oleg Artemyev (R) go to board their Soyuz-FG rocket with the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, early on March 26, 2014. The launch of the international crew is scheduled early on March 26. AFP PHOTO / POOL / DMITRY LOVETSKY (Photo credit should read DMITRY LOVETSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- NASA has ordered spacewalking repairs for a serious computer outage at the International Space Station.

A backup computer for some robotic systems failed Friday. The main computer is fine and the six-man crew is safe, but the malfunction puts next week's supply run in jeopardy.

Mission managers agreed Saturday that a spacewalk is needed to replace the bad computer. But officials want one more day before deciding whether the situation is safe enough in orbit to proceed with Monday's SpaceX launch as planned.

NASA promised to decide Sunday whether to delay the delivery mission.

No date for the spacewalk has been set yet; officials indicated it could occur sometime in the next week or so. The job is among those practiced by the astronauts before flight.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule holds more than 2 tons of station supplies and science experiments at Cape Canaveral. The shipment is already a month late for unrelated reasons.

If the Dragon soars Monday - launch time is 4:58 p.m. EDT - then it would reach the orbiting lab on Wednesday.

Flight controllers want to make sure enough redundancy exists at the space station before committing to the launch.

The bad computer, called an MDM or multiplexer-demultiplexer, is among more than a dozen located on the outside of the space station, used to route commands to various systems.

Officials said the failure has had no impact on the scientific and other work being conducted by the astronauts: three Russians, two Americans and one Japanese.

NASA is paying the California-based SpaceX - Space Exploration Technologies Corp. - as well as Orbital Sciences Corp. of Virginia to deliver space station goods. Russia, Europe and Japan also perform occasional shipments. The U.S. space shuttles carried up the bulk of station equipment until their retirement in 2011.

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