NASA troubleshoots mysterious ISS power issue

The International Space Station has a power system problem, but don't freak out.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

The ISS has a power problem.


The International Space Station isn't working quite right. A NASA ISS update issued Monday focused on an upcoming SpaceX cargo resupply mission, but also mentioned "an issue with the International Space Station's electrical power system."

NASA said the issue stems from a main bus switching unit (MBSU) that sends electrical power to two of eight power channels. The ISS solar arrays feed power through these channels to operate all of the station systems. Flight controllers are working on rerouting power through the six remaining channels.

NASA is trying to figure out what happened and if it can restore full power to the station. "There are no immediate concerns for the crew or the station," the space agency said. The ISS is currently home to six astronauts and cosmonauts from NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and Roscosmos.

Details are scarce as NASA digs into its troubleshooting work. Recent spacewalks have involved the replacement of batteries on the outside of the ISS, but we don't know if there's any connection between the power problem and that upgrade work. 

A SpaceX Dragon resupply mission is scheduled to launch this week, but the power issue could put a crimp in those plans. "Discussions are underway to determine any impacts to SpaceX's CRS-17 cargo resupply mission targeted for launch May 1," NASA said. 

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