Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tumbling (Shaved) Dice

How is the space station like Notre Dame in Paris? We may soon find out.

Our astronauts working outside ISS found something they weren't looking for today. Metal shavings inside a joint that is needed to turn a set of solar power panels. The joint has experienced intermittent vibrations and power spikes for nearly two months. Unless the rubbing subsides soon, there is a good chance something will need to be done about the joint.

Only one problem. There is no way to take a new joint to the ISS with the small remaining number of shuttle flights before its retirement. Ooops, let's make that two problems. As it is, the space station is just one failure away from being able to provide enough power for all the pieces and parts that are on the way up to complete the station. You see the Emperor bet on the come when he decided how many shuttle flights would be required to finish the station. Instead of carrying all of the original power panels to the ISS as originally designed, he decided to only launch just enough to get the job done today. No margin is available in the event of a failure of one of the primary panels tomorrow. If that happens, something will have to be turned off. That will bring a whole new meaning to the term "power sharing."

Heads, U.S. wins. Tails, Russians, Europeans, or Japanese lose?

To answer our opening question, like Notre Dame, the ISS may soon not have any lights to illuminate its interior if all of its rotary joints fail early. So much for the Emperor's "cathedral building." Recall, this is the same Emperor who is the Chief Engineer of the Universe. Architect of Constellation. We're just glad he isn't our auto mechanic.

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