Monday, October 29, 2007

Delayed Reaction

With an additional space walk now planned to inspect the metal shaving filled rotating solar array joint on the ISS, a lot of attention is being brought to bear on the offending system. But, one has to ask, why did it take so long to act?

Just under two months ago it was noticed that the joint motor was experiencing unusual vibrations as it rotated. Greater-than-expected amounts of current were required to turn the motor. The motor on the left hand side of ISS operates at an average of about 0.1 amps. But the one on the right has been averaging 0.2 to 0.3 amps with peaks up to 0.9 amps. Did we mention unusual vibrations?

For almost two months!

We have been to this picture show before. Repeatedly. An anomaly appears. A major inconvenience, if its a real, perhaps systemic problem. Maybe it won't get worse? But over time, it continues to operate (and be operated), and soon it becomes routine. Sound familiar? The Emperor has repeatedly said this can't/won't happen on his watch. However, here we are, once again on the edge of disaster.

Soon the Emperor will offer a mea culpa and promise to do better in the future. Isn't it time for a break from this routine?

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