An array of busted computers that control the International Space Station's orientation and oxygen and water supplies could force the orbiting hotel's three current residents to either extend their stay or make an emergency departure. The Russian-made computers are critical for sustaining life aboard the station, and while astronauts have a 56-day supply of oxygen remaining and the ability to manually fire the control thrusters, we've seen 2001 enough times to know that space and computer malfunctions don't mix. So far the cause of the failure is a real head-scratcher for Russian engineers tasked with troubleshooting the problem (where's Cosmonaut Gates
when you need him?), though current suspicions lie with power issues related to the new solar array delivered by Atlantis
on this most recent shuttle mission. For real-time updates on this crisis, just grab a telescope and follow along for yourself...
[Thanks, Eli R]