On May 1, 2019, a power outage took the International Space Station by surprise. Before they managed to fix the issue, it had already caused an already planned SpaceX supply run to be delayed. The SpaceX Dragon capsule was scheduled to launch on Wednesday, May 1, but the project has been put on standby until at least Friday, May 3.
It seems that a problem with the Main Bus Switching Units was reported by the team since April 29, when two power channels were left nonfunctional. Due to this, the robotic arm outside the ISS was left with only one functional power channel, which was one of the biggest concerns. The malfunctioning of the robot arm could jeopardize flights to the Space Station, since its main purpose is to safely outgoing capsules, such as the SpaceX Dragon, outside of the station.
SpaceX Dragon Capsule launch delayed due to a power outage on the International Space Station
Since the delivery of the capsule was dangerous to accomplish with a crippled arm, NASA decided to reschedule it after the problem is solved. Of course, rescheduling the supply delivery could be worrying, but a new batch of supplies was delivered by Northrop Grumman two weeks ago, so the team should be good until the robotic arm is fixed.
Astronauts came up with a solution to the problem. They tried to re-route the power from the two nonfunctional power channels into the other functional channels. Unfortunately, the plan couldn’t work because they were not able to find a different electricity source for the robotic arm.
After all, NASA came up with the most efficient plan to restore power to the International Space Station’s system. Flight controllers are going to use the robot arm to take out the power-switching unit and replace it with a new one. This way, astronauts won’t need to go outside of the station to fix the arm.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.