Main Oxygen Generator Fails on International Space Station

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JonClarke

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Hi Halman<br /><br />ISS status report 4-52 said that ground controllers asked that the Elektron be turned off overnight to allow evaluation of data gathered during its operations. I don;t see how this can be taken as indicating its reliability or otherwise.<br /><br />Completely agree on the shortsightedness of not buying services from Russia. One shuttrle flight could pay for at least 10 progress.<br /><br />With respect to Klipper I was encouraged to see the photo in one of the links that apparently shows Klipper under construction. Does anyone know whether this is actual flight hardware, test hardware or a mock up? Worthy spacecraft though it is Soyuz is long overdue for replacement.<br /><br />Cheers<br /><br />Jon <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Whether we become a multi-planet species with unlimited horizons, or are forever confined to Earth will be decided in the twenty-first century amid the vast plains, rugged canyons and lofty mountains of Mars</em>  Arthur Clarke</p> </div>
 
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omegamogo

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This is the Elektron system, Right? The page I found it on isn't exactly understandable to me and altavista is no help.
 
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JonClarke

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Thanks Photon for the Kliper info.<br /><br />I take the stories about the dead inventor and nobody understanding how to fix the Elektron with all the salt it deserves - several tonnes. The unit is described in some detail at http://www.jamesoberg.com/elektron2_tec.html.<br /><br />Cheers<br /><br />jon <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Whether we become a multi-planet species with unlimited horizons, or are forever confined to Earth will be decided in the twenty-first century amid the vast plains, rugged canyons and lofty mountains of Mars</em>  Arthur Clarke</p> </div>
 
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halman

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omegamogo,<br /><br />That is the Elektron unit in the photo that you posted. It uses electricity generated by the solar cells to break down waste water via electrolosis into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is dumped over the side, and the oxygen is released into the cabin. It is the primary source of oxygen on the International Space Station, preventing the need to ship oxygen to the station on a regular basis. Water is shipped up on almost every Progress flight, I believe. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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radarredux

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halman

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RadarRedux,<br /><br />The Elektron was repaired, and modified, and tested successfully. However, the unit that was repaired/modified was the second of three units which are onboard the International Space Station. The unit which started the alarm bells ringing was unit number 3. Number one had failed some time ago, number two went down about 6 months ago, which prompted Russian ground control to send up replacement parts on the last Progress.<br /><br />Repairing and modifying unit number 2 was the primary activity for the last two weeks, as unit #3 had begun acting up about a month ago. Even if unit #2 is functional, it is considered a day-to-day situation. Only if #2 remains functional without further problems can an on-board source of oxygen be counted upon. The Elektron unit has had a rather poor history of reliability, and there is much uncertainty if the modifications will help to correct that.<br /><br />Even if unit #2 does prove to be functional over a span of several weeks, there is no back up available. #1 has failed in a mode which is considered a 'hard' failure, meaning that ground control does not think that the unit is repairable. #3 was exhibiting failure modes which are heretofore unseen, and is probably going to require extensive testing before the decision can be made to invest the effort in attemting to repair and/or modify it. Parts would have to be shipped up from Earth if repairs are to be attempted.<br /><br />Replacement Elektron units are not available at this time, and probably will not be until sometime in the spring of 2005. With the only functioning Elektron unit jury-rigged, and no back ups available, it would not surprise me if the decision were made not to relieve Expedition 9, but to simply have them power the station down, put everything in a Standby mode, and lock the place up.<br /><br />If this turns out to be the case, hopefully the period of abandonment will not be longer than six months. I have not heard anything regarding <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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bobw

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I saw this earlier today. <br /><br />Sept. 23, 2004, 12:24AM http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/space/2810063<br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Meanwhile, Padalka and ground-based experts are still trying to fix the space station's Russian-made oxygen generator that hasn't worked for weeks.<br /><br />Padalka installed a new internal pump on Friday, but the generator shut down again as late as Wednesday. The space station has a five-month backup supply of oxygen.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />It sounds like Elektron is broken again or still broken or something. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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zavvy

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Thanks for the update, Dave...<br /><br />Will I be able to watch this on NASA TV over the Internet..??
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">Will I be able to watch this on NASA TV over the Internet..??</font>/i><br /><br />If it is on NASA TV, you can pick it up with Real or Microsoft Media Player at<br /><br />http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html<br /><br />Also, in case people haven't caught it yet, DirecTV is carrying NASA TV again.</i>
 
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zavvy

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Thanks! <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />I watch NASA TV over the Internet a LOT.. (don't have cable or a decent TV...by choice...)<br /><br />Was just wondering if this particular press conference would be available online....
 
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erioladastra

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"Hummm conflicting information from Russia and NASA seems to be the norm. "<br /><br />No, in this case more of 'two different countries/systems working a complicated issue that is changing hourly.' Working in mission control we are not even sure what is going on ;}
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">Working in mission control we are not even sure what is going on</font>/i><br /><br />Ouch. Sounds a little like a war room duing the middle of a battle.</i>
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">It sounds like Elektron is broken again or still broken or something.</font>/i><br /><br />Yep. Everyone seems to be on the same page now -- the Elektron is still having problems. From the NASA Station Status report for 24 Sep 04:<br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>The crew's work this week included ... continued troubleshooting of the onboard oxygen generator. ... Additional troubleshooting work continued on the Elektron oxygen-generating unit. ... While the Elektron work continued, the Station’s atmosphere was repressurized twice this week using oxygen from tanks on the Progress supply craft docked to the Station.<br /><br />http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/spacenews/reports/issreports/2004/iss04-53.html<br /><p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Here are some additional quotes from a Space.com article this afternoon:<br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>International Space Station (ISS) officials have listed food and oxygen supplies among their top concerns for the next astronauts bound for the orbiting facility, and are drawing up plans to de-crew the station if stores dip too low.<br />...<br />Gerstenmaier said that a problematic Russian oxygen generator, known as an Elektron, prompted ISS planners to evaluate the limits of consumables like food and oxygen and determine parameters where it may become necessary to evacuate Chiao and Sharipov from the ISS.<br />...<br />The Elektron device failed earlier this month, and Padalka and Fincke have been working to repair it while dipping into their backup air supplies.<br />...<br />A red line has been drawn at the 45-day mark, though ISS officials said it's not a final deadline to abandon the station.<br /><br />http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/exp10_updat</p></blockquote></i>
 
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halman

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1207,<br /><br />No new Elektron oxygen generators will be available until January at the earliest, and possibly not until spring 2005. They seem to have a limited life expectancy, as the three that were installed on the International Space Station have all experienced failure. In order of start up, number one is considered a 'hard' failure, which means that it can not be repaired, number two is in the process of attempting repair, and number three began failing a couple of months ago, in modes which have not been seen before. A replacement circulating pump was sent up on the last Progress, to be installed on unit number two. This has been done, in addition to removing the unit's automatic gas analyzer.<br /><br />The unit 2 was operational for a short time after the repairs, but ground control ordered it shut down while the crew was sleeping, because of the removal of the automatic analyzer. However, it appears that it is experiencing failures while operating.<br /><br />The United States is building its own version of a wastewater fueled, solar powered oxygen generator, however, it was not scheduled for completion for another SIX years. That schedule has been accelerated to make delivery possible in only FOUR years. It seems that oxygen generators are not considered a critical system, although their lack of operation can force the ISS to be abandoned. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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elguapoguano

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So the only oxygen generators on ISS are located in Zvezda? Destiny wasn't designed with oxygen generators? Does Elektron act as a Srubber as well or are there aditional CO2 &%$#@!ubbers? If so couldn't they send up a couple hundred pounds of candles. I'm sure that would extend the date till Shuttle can deliver new hardware. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#ff0000"><u><em>Don't let your sig line incite a gay thread ;>)</em></u></font> </div>
 
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erioladastra

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<br />There are 42 days worth of oxygen candles. The 45 day redline is not hard but if we reach that point then demanning will be discussed. If Progress 16P docks fine on Christmas than there should be enough for the whole of expedition 10. The 162 is for 2 crewmen.<br /><br />Destiny does not have an Oxygen generator since there are air tanks on the airlock, candles and the Elektron. Vozduhk scrubs the air on the Russian side as does equipment in the USOS. A new Elektron will probably fly on 17P next year.
 
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halman

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1207,<br /><br />Oxygen generators such as the Elektron require a constant source of water, which is usually on of the primary items shipped on the Progress. Mars will require a completely self-contained, closed-loop life support system. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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