NASA probes sabotage

NASA is investigating sabotage of a noncritical computer due to be flown to the International Space Station aboard the space shuttle Endeavour, which was cleared to lift off on August 7, the U.S. space agency said .

NASA probes sabotage
The damage to wiring in an electronics box was intentional and obvious, NASA's associate administrator for space operations, Bill Gerstenmaier told reporters at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA was told of the sabotage by a subcontractor, which Gerstenmaier declined to identify, citing an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General.

"It was disclosed to us as soon as the event occurred, about a week and a half ago," Gerstenmaier said. "The damage is very obvious, easy to detect. It's not a mystery to us."

NASA found cut cables inside the electronics box, which was being prepared to be loaded into Endeavour's crew cabin for transport to the $100 billion space station.

NASA managers believe there is ample time to repair the computer before Endeavour's liftoff on August 7. The shuttle is scheduled to spend up to 10 days at the space station to install a new structural beam and deliver supplies.

The computer, which is to be located in the U.S. laboratory Destiny, is designed to collect and relay data from sensors on the station's external trusses. The sensors detect vibrations and forces, such as micrometeoroid impacts. Currently, the data is stored in the sensors and not immediately accessible.

"If we don't get it repaired in time, we'll fly without it," said NASA spokesman Kyle Herring. "It's not an issue."

The same manufacturer also builds gauges for the shuttle's wings and other station computer components, Gerstenmaier said. No other damage was detected.
The damage is believed to be the first act of sabotage of flight equipment NASA has discovered, Gerstenmaier and shuttle program manager Wayne Hale said.

Endeavour, fresh from a complete overhaul and the last of NASA's three remaining shuttles to return to flight following the 2003 Columbia disaster, is due to carry out a construction mission to the space station.

It will be NASA's second shuttle flight of the year.

Endeavour was almost totally rebuilt during its overhaul and was like a new space shuttle, Hale said.

"It's like driving a new car off the showroom floor," he said.

Endeavour's seven crew members include teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan, who trained 22 years ago as the backup to teacher-in-space Christa McAuliffe, one of the astronauts who died when Challenger blew up at liftoff in January 1986.

Among the shuttle's upgrades is a new system that will enable the spacecraft to tap into the station's electrical system and stay longer at the outpost.

If the power transfer system works properly, NASA plans to extend Endeavour's mission to 14 days. That will allow time for the crew to finish extra work preparing the orbital outpost for the arrival of laboratories built by Europe and Japan on later shuttle flights.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Temmuz 2007, 16:25