Robot arm handshake on hold

NASA information about the space station

For a second day, a computer "glitch" on the International Space Station delayed NASA's attempts to operate the newly installed robot arm.

NASA engineers and astronauts Thursday were able to restore one of the three command and control computers on the space station. All three computers went down on Wednesday. As of Thursday, however, NASA was unsure what the problem was.

Although the crew was able to get one of the three systems working again, NASA officials decided to postpone the test of the robot arm in an effort to get at least one of the back-up systems running. "We want to get a second computer running so we have some redundancy before we do those activities," said NASA spokesman Greg Lange at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The crews are seeking to conduct a "handshake" — a test where the space station's 58-foot robot arm will hand its 3,000-pound packing crate to the shuttle's robot arm.

The trade originally was scheduled for Wednesday, but was delayed because a computer server on the space station went down, disrupting communications onboard.

The troubled server feeds a main computer and two laptops aboard the station, which are then used to send commands to the robot arm, according to NASA.

The problem disrupted communications from the command computers on the station. All other systems were running properly, NASA officials said, and Mission Control in Houston remained in contact with the crew through space shuttle Endeavour, which is docked at the station.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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