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SpaceX Resupply Launched by Malfunction on Space Station – Spaceflight Now

A solar array wing on the International Space Station is visible in this image. Credit: NASA

A SpaceX Dragon supply ship packed with nearly three tons of experiments, crews and supplies will be on the ground until at least Friday morning to allow more time for NASA flight controllers to troubleshoot the electrical distribution unit on the International Space Station.

Multiple sources said the commercial resupply launch, previously scheduled for Wednesday, will be pushed back at least two days earlier than Friday at 3:11 a.m. EDT (0711 GMT).

The delay will allow for NASA flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to issue a distribution box in the space station's electrical power system. Engineers Detected with the Main Bus Switching Unit on Monday morning, and ground teams may elect to replace the component later this week, ahead of the SpaceX cargo launch.

The unit is one of several space station’s U.S. routes. solar arrays to the research outpost's electrical channels. The suspect unit distributes power to two of the eight electrical channels on the station, including power supply for space station robotic arm, which station astronauts will use to capture the Dragon Cargo Craft as it approaches the complex.

While the robotic arm is powered by a separate channel, NASA flight rules require redundant power supplies for the military during critical operations, such as the free-flying spacecraft.

Ground teams have replaced and failed the Main Bus Switching Unit using the station's robotic arm before. The capability to robotically replace the power distribution box by astronauts may not have to conduct and spacewalk for the task.

The electrical system glitch does not pose any immediate concern to the station or its six-person crew, NASA said.

NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3); Military's Space Test Program Houston-6 (STP-H6) Payloads are available in SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft inside NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 23, 2019. Credit: NASA

"Monday morning, the International Space Station's electrical power system and working to identify the root cause and restore the power to the system," the space agency said.

In the update posted Monday afternoon, the engineers said they were examining an unspecified issue with the Main Bus Switching Unit.

"Flight controllers have been working to route power through the remaining six power channels," NASA said. "Electrical power generated by the station's solar arrays is fed to all station systems through these power channels."

NASA said Monday afternoon that managers were discussing how the power system problem might have impacted the SpaceX resupply launch.

If the Dragon spacecraft had launched Wednesday, it was due to arrive at the station early Saturday. Assuming and launching from Cape Canaveral on Friday morning, the Dragon Cargo Freighter is scheduled to reach the early Sunday complex.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.

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