Despite Glitches, Astronauts Keep Spirits High Aboard Space Station

Despite Glitches, Astronauts Keep Spirits High Aboard Space Station
The Expedition 15 and STS-117 crews participate in a crew news conference with reporters on Earth. Image (Image credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON -- Despitefacing down tough computer glitches amidst a busy mission to build up theInternational Space Station (ISS), spirits are high among the ten astronauts aboard the orbitallaboratory.

The jointcrews of NASA?s space shuttle Atlantis and the station?s Expedition 15 missionsaid they had faith that the beguilingcomputer issues in the Russian segment of the ISS over the last few dayswould be resolved.

?At thevery beginning we were a little bit worried about the status of the computers,?Expedition 15 flight engineer Oleg Kotov told reporters during space-to-groundpress conference Saturday. ?But we were sure that our ground team?couldtroubleshoot this problem, and it came true.?

Kotov andExpedition 15 commander Fyodor Yurchikhin reactivated the six Russian computersover the last two days, thelast two earlier today.

?It?s agood day,? Yurchikhin said, adding that the busy joint mission with Atlantis?crew can be challenging yet rewarding. ?Sometimes it?s terrible, sometimesdifficult, but a very nice time for every one of us.?


Commandedby veteran shuttle flyer Rick Sturckow, Atlantis? STS-117 crew has spent justover a week in space delivering a new Expedition 15 crewmember, massive starboardtrusses and new solar wings to the ISS.

Sturckowsaid he has no concerns over the surgicalstaple fix that secured a torn heat-resistant blanket to Atlantis? left aftengine pod. Spacewalker Danny Olivas used a medical stapler and wire pins toanchor the blanket down on Friday.

?I have alot of confidence in Danny?s work, so I think we?re going to be in good shape,?Sturckow said.

FourSTS-117 astronauts are making their first trip into space during the planned13-day mission, which has been a learning experience for some. Atlantis pilotLee Archambault said that the technical hurdles of the mission can pale incomparison with simple necessities in the weightlessness of space.

?Learninghow to eat, just getting around without gravity, is often times even a biggerchallenge than the technical things that we do,? Archambault said. ?Adapting tozero gravity provides a unique challenge that can?t be practiced anywhere else.?

Othercrewmates, meanwhile, said they were awed by the station?s size, even as theyhelped make it a bit bigger by adding new segments.

?The reallybig impressive moment was being out at the end of the truss as we werefinishing some of our work getting ready to unfurl the solar arrays?.and thenturning around and seeing this massive piece of equipment that we?ve beenbuilding over the last few years,? STS-117 spacewalker James Reilly said.

Crewswap underway

NASAastronaut Sunita Williams, formerly an Expedition 15 flight engineer, ispreparing to return to Earth with the Atlantis crew after six months aboard theISS. Earlier today, she seta new world record for the longest duration spaceflight by a female astronaut.

?I think Ihad a couple of wrenches in my hands, that?s how I celebrated,? Williams said,stressing that she was just in the right place at the right time to snag thetitle.

Williams ishanding her ISS flight engineer duties over to NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson,who is making his first spaceflight with the STS-117 and Expedition 15 missionsand had some fast lessons while the station crew wrangled with computer issuesthis week.

?I think I?mhanging in there,? Anderson said. ?It kind of reminds me of one of my swimminglessons when I got tossed in the water, but everybody?s been very helpful.?

Williamssaid the high points of mission were representing the U.S. as its solerepresentative aboard the ISS, and her four spacewalks to help outfit thestation.

?When you?reoutside and the only thing between you and space is your visor, you know that?spretty special,? she said.

NASA isbroadcasting the space shuttle Atlantis' STS-117 mission live on NASA TV. Click here for mission updates'svideo feed.

  • Video Interplayer: Space Station Power Up with STS-117
  • Complete Shuttle Mission Coverage
  • All About the International Space Station

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.