Thankfully, no one is in immediate danger, but the partial power loss means that SpaceX is going to need to wait before launching its CRS-17 Dragon resupply mission carrying nearly 5,500 pounds of experiments and supplies.
The problem: The International Space Station (ISS), which is powered via its solar panels, has four main distribution units known as main bus switching units (MBSUs). NASA announced yesterday that the issue is with MBSU 3. Each MBSU distributes power around the station via two station channels. That means two of the eight channels on the station have now lost power. This isn’t the first time this problem has occurred: MBSUs malfunctioned in 2012 and 2017, requiring them to be replaced via either robotic arm or spacewalk.
What was affected: Most importantly, the outage has affected redundancy for the Space Station’s remote manipulator system (its robotic arm), something that is needed for backup during the SpaceX Dragon capsule’s capture. The arm can function with only one power source, but NASA requires two just in case.
What’s next: If the engineers on the ground can’t solve the issue by rerouting power or fixing the problem MBSU, astronauts on board the ISS may need to attempt to replace it before the SpaceX CRS-17 mission proceeds. The launch was previously scheduled for May 1, but mission managers are delaying it until at least May 3 at 3:11 a.m.
Want to keep up to date with space tech news? Sign up for our space newsletter, The Airlock.
This is the first image of the black hole at the center of our galaxy
The stunning image was made possible by linking eight existing radio observatories across the globe.
Mapping the atmosphere on Mars can help advance science on our own planet
The Emirates Mars Mission is monitoring and measuring the climate and atmosphere of the red planet, but this effort also helps promote and advance science at a national level.
How SpaceX’s massive Starship rocket might unlock the solar system—and beyond
With the first orbital test launch of Starship on the horizon, scientists are dreaming about what it might make possible— from trips to Neptune to planetary defense.
SpaceX just lost 40 satellites to a geomagnetic storm. There could be worse to come.
Increasing solar activity could play havoc with mega-constellations like Starlink in the coming years.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.