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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Power on Mir Fully Restored

Russian cosmonauts have successfully tested a new solar panel on the Mir space station, restoring near-full power while avoiding a repeat of the electrical problem that sparked a two-day computer shutdown, space officials said Friday.


The new panel means Mir can run at virtually 100 percent power, a spokesman for Russia's space control center said, the first time since supplies were drastically reduced following a near-fatal accident in June when Mir was rammed by an incoming cargo vessel.


The unmanned craft also punctured the hull of the Spektr science module, which had to be sealed off, thus depriving Mir of power from its solar panels.


Russian flight control spokesman said Mir commander Anatoly Solovyov and engineer Pavel Vinogradov had not experienced any problems when they tested the new panel late Thursday.


A previous attempt to bring the panel on line last week caused dramatic power fluctuations aboard the 11-year-old space craft, prompting the 2 1/2-day computer shutdown.


The outage also pulled the plug on Mir's computer-controlled orientation system that keeps the space station's solar panels facing the sun, forcing the crew to fire the engines of Mir's escape craft Soyuz to keep the craft facing the sun.


Mir's new on-board computer was installed Oct. 1 after the previous model crashed four times within a month, causing major power failures and disrupting oxygen supplies.


But space officials stressed the problem was linked to the power supplies and did not indicate a fault with the central computer.


Power supplies have been slowly improving since a series of space walks earlier this month by Mir commander Anatoly Solovyov and engineer Pavel Vinogradov to replace damaged panels and to reroute the control system of the Spektr panels.


Mir has been dogged by accidents and breakdowns in recent months, but its fortunes seemed to have been improving since Solovyov, one of the world's most experienced astronauts, and Vinogradov came on board Aug. 5.