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Space station recovers from computer problems

Tests today of its systems will decide whether Atlantis will return home on Thursday.

Published June 18, 2007


HOUSTON - Restoration of a failed computer system returned life to a regular rhythm on the international space station Sunday, as two astronauts took the fourth space walk since space shuttle Atlantis docked with the outpost a week ago.

"We're slowly moving back into a normal mode of operations, " station commander Fyodor Yurchikhin radioed Mission Control in Moscow.

The "normal mode" included a nearly 6 1/2-hour space walk - the mission's last - that ended with astronauts Patrick Forrester and Steven Swanson completing nearly all of their tasks.

They activated a rotating joint - their top priority - on the outpost's newest segment so a new pair of solar wings can track the sun and provide power to the station. They were not able to bolt down a problematic debris shield and instead secured it in place with tethers.

Flight controllers planned to test today the space station's thrusters, which haven't been used since the crash last week of the Russian computers that control orientation and oxygen production.

With the exception of an oxygen generator, all the space station systems that were powered down when the computers failed were back running.

Mission managers will decide after the station's thrusters are put to the test whether Atlantis needs to spend another day at the outpost. During the computer meltdown, Atlantis' thrusters were used to help the station maintain its orientation.

Atlantis is set to undock on Tuesday and land Thursday in Cape Canaveral.

[Last modified June 18, 2007, 01:04:57]

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