The Space Shuttle Endeavour landed at Edwards AFB, California, on 1 May after its 11-day International Space Station (ISS) mission which included fixing software problems on the station's Destiny laboratory module.

Bad weather at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, caused a diversion to Edwards. This will add $1 million to the Shuttle bill for the trans-US flight back to the KSC on the Boeing 747 carrier aircraft.

The Honeywell command and control (C&C) three-computer system on Destiny is now operating following the use of a temporary system set up using borrowed parts from other computers.

The C&Cs control the ISS's functions, including the gyro-scopes for attitude control which are crucial in pointing the station's solar arrays to the sun.

Engineers believe that C&C 1 and 2 suffered two near-simultaneous hard drive failures and, when the C&C 3 was called up, it also failed. It has also been revealed that the C&C 2 was known to have a hard drive anomaly before the incident. C&C 1 is the prime computer, C&C 2 is the hot back-up and C&C 3 is on standby.

Only two C&Cs are functioning - C&C 2 with a working hard drive and C&C 3 using new by-pass software. Endeavour returned C&C 1 to Earth so that its hard drive can be studied. It has been replaced by a payload computer.

The Endeavour and ISS crews -completed a partial test of the Space Station Remote Manipulator System Canadarm 2 which was manually operated in the first robotic arm hand-off in space, says NASA. But a fully automated, multi-joint test of the Canadarm 2 will have to wait until the next mission, STS 102/Atlantis in June.

Meanwhile, ignoring NASA's reluctance to fly tourists to the ISS, Rosaviakosmos and Soyuz spacecraft builder Energia are seeking further commercial space tourists to fly to the station. The passengers would fly on the two Soyuz flights a year to the station, providing the ISS with a fresh Soyuz TM return re-entry vehicle.

US company Space Adventures, which is marketing Soyuz missions, says that two more potential tourists have been lined up, one from the USA and one from south-east Asia, with the first likely to fly in October. Flights will cost $20 million.

The first space tourist, Dennis Tito, and his crew were scheduled to leave the ISS on 5 May to return to Earth with the Soyuz TM31.

Preliminary talks are also on-going with China about carrying a Chinese astronaut aboard a Soyuz TM before the first Chinese national manned spaceflight on the Shen Zhou spacecraft.

Source: Flight International