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  • Atlantis Astronauts Deal With General Purpose Computer Failure
    Posted by Mark Carreau 3:10 AM on Jul 15, 2011

    Shuttle Atlantis experienced a General Purpose Computer failure late Thursday, triggering an alarm that awakened the four astronauts and send commander Chris Ferguson scrambling to activate a backup.

    The failure of GPC-4 was unrelated to the problem that temporarily tripped up GPC-3 during the July 10 rendezvous and docking phase of the 13 day STS-135 supply mission to the International Space Station.

    The alarm sounded just after 7 p.m., EDT, or about 90 minutes after Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim headed to bed aboard the shuttle.

    The shuttle is equipped with five GPCs in the crew compartment, four of them programmed with the same operating software for multiple redundancy and one that runs a backup version. During normal orbital operations, one of the GPCs is designated for systems management dutes and two are placed in standby.

    No. 4 was responsible for systems management Thursday night, when the alarm tripped. Ferguson responded by switching the systems management duties to the No. 2 GPC.

    The response took 40 minutes, and Atlantis returned to normal operations.

    Mission Control, which monitored the shuttle crew's response, added a half hour to the sleep period. The astronauts will carry out troubleshooting of GPC-4 after they are awakened Friday.

    In the case of GPC-3, the processor returned to normal operations after it was re-initiated.

    Tags: os99, NASA, space shuttle, International Space Station

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