[FPSPACE] Elektron back up and running full time

Jim Oberg joberg at houston.rr.com
Wed Oct 27 23:10:23 EDT 2004

With new control software, and weeks of repairs,
the Elektron is up and running round the clock for 
the first time in a month. Congratulations to all
space jury-riggers!

Controllers are anxious enough about the unit's
future lifetime that they withheld use of stored
oxygen supplies during the recent crew handover,
while the Elektron was still inoperative. As a result
cabin oxygen levels fell below the Flight Rule lower
limit, but just barely, and both control centers
concurred that it was prudent to hold back as much
margin for future breakdowns as possible.

I'm still not clear on why, exactly, Elektron units
in the past had finite lifetimes -- failing more and 
more frequently until they could no longer be started -- 
and how the recent repairs are supposed to have
altered this hitherto inevitable decline of each
unit's functionality.

In any case, stored supplies plus new supplies on
future Progress missions provide almost enough backup 
for a full expedition using only expendable supplies,
a very comfortable margin to be in.

I'd like to learn more about the new design of an
'Elektron-2' unit (supposedly, a solid electrolyte
rather than the liquid one that contributed to so 
much of the bubbling and clogging problems), who
in Russia is building it, how much oversight the
NASa partners have into its development and
testing, what long-term ground shakedowns are
planned (how long?), and how soon the first
unit can be installed on orbit. 

Then I can update the reference pages at
my home page technical report on 'Elektron',
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