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Thread: Please reboot your spacesuit

  1. #1
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    Please reboot your spacesuit

    NASA.gov

    About three hours into today’s spacewalk, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough made his way back to the Quest airlock at the International Space Station to reconnect his spacesuit to an umbilical connection and restarted it. The reset corrected the issues with his spacesuit’s display and controls module that provides him information about the status of his spacesuit.

    In addition, after seeing a spike in the reading for pressure in his sublimator, which provides cooling for his spacesuit, flight controllers had Kimbrough cycle the sublimator. The data stabilized.

    Kimbrough is safe and has now made his way back to the worksite where the new solar arrays remain in the flight support equipment.
    Good thing his tech support at work is better than mine.

    "Blue Screen of Death" takes on a new meaning in a vaccum.
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  2. #2
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    Safety first!

    I think the first thing I'd do if I were designing a spacesuit is make sure it still keeps you alive if there's a glitch in the electronics. Analog, anyone?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  3. #3
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    Well, it kept him alive, so it seems to have covered that part. I have no doubt there are all kinds of redundancies, manual backups and so on.

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    I guess I just fundamentally trust manual mechanics more than electronics. My experiences with computers and phones (and yes, tech support) have taught me that they're somewhat unreliable.

    "Have you tried turning your spacesuit all the way off, waiting ten seconds..." Which is basically what Kimrough did. It does not reassure me to know that the suit systems share the same recovery methods as my laptop. What flaws does it share?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I guess I just fundamentally trust manual mechanics more than electronics. My experiences with computers and phones (and yes, tech support) have taught me that they're somewhat unreliable.

    "Have you tried turning your spacesuit all the way off, waiting ten seconds..." Which is basically what Kimrough did. It does not reassure me to know that the suit systems share the same recovery methods as my laptop. What flaws does it share?
    I have a rather different view. Look at the Voyagers, for example, running constantly and keeping contact with Earth since the 1970s. Electronics and computers can be extremely reliable if designed correctly. A lot of modern issues are due to extraordinarily complex systems where occasional glitches are acceptable. These aren’t items where survival is at stake so don’t have the same engineering requirements.

    And he did not turn his spacesuit off. He cycled one function, and it sounds like it was a measurement instrumentation issue, not the sublimator hardware itself.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." — Abraham Lincoln

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I guess I just fundamentally trust manual mechanics more than electronics. My experiences with computers and phones (and yes, tech support) have taught me that they're somewhat unreliable.

    "Have you tried turning your spacesuit all the way off, waiting ten seconds..." Which is basically what Kimrough did. It does not reassure me to know that the suit systems share the same recovery methods as my laptop. What flaws does it share?
    I'm a mechanical engineer. I can look at a gear or lever and understand how it works. Electronics, not so much!
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    Well, it kept him alive, so it seems to have covered that part. I have no doubt there are all kinds of redundancies, manual backups and so on.
    I don't know the details either, but I'm with Van Rijn on this. I doubt he was ever in more danger than one is during any spacewalk. It sounds like the initial electronics problem was with the display and not particularly the fundamental control of the spacesuit. And the reboot was done while he was umbilicalled to the station. I suspect if they weren't able to fix the sublimator problem, that it would have just shortened the walk; he had plenty of time to re-enter the station before he overheated.

    My comment about "blue screen of death" was a joke.

    Scott Manley touched on this briefly in one of his recent videos (it was sort of a 'week in review" one) and did mention the suits are getting on several decades old and are probably getting due for replacement.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    I'm a mechanical engineer. I can look at a gear or lever and understand how it works. Electronics, not so much!
    Yes. To me, computers are a black box. They might as well have a little demon inside them making things happen, like a Discworld movie camera. If I were a software engineer I'd have a different view, but as it is anything more complex than a wind-up clock is too much to deal with. I have to pretend my car is purely mechanical or I'd be afraid to rely on it.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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