A backup computer failure on the International Space Station will not impact the SpaceX cargo resupply run planned for later today (April 14), NASA has announced. In fact, parts that will be used to replace the failed computer were rushed to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket ahead of the launch, scheduled for 4:58 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
The computer failure was reported on Friday during routine check-ups on the health of the space station’s computer systems. The system affected is called a multiplexer/demultiplexer (MDM) backup computer command relay box located on the station’s S0 truss. The main MDM continues to operate as designed and the six-member crew are not in any danger. The pair of MDMs control the station’s external cooling system.
The backup MDM will need to be replaced and a spacewalk is currently being planned to take care of the situation.
“(P)reparations are underway for a contingency spacewalk by two of the Expedition 39 crewmembers no earlier than around April 22 to replace the failed MDM with a spare housed inside the station,” said NASA in a statement. A gasket-like material will be delivered by the SpaceX Dragon capsule to make the replacement operation possible.
Today’s SpaceX launch is the third resupply mission (called the SpaceX-3 mission) to be carried out by the private company, delivering over 2 tons of supplies. Along with a second private launch company — Orbital Sciences Corp. — SpaceX is part of a NASA-funded effort for private companies to deliver cargo, experiments and (eventually) astronauts into orbit.