Technical problems in the International Space Station have put a brake on the smooth functioning of the sky lab. It pertains to a major power shortage and while efforts are on to resolve it as a top priority, there are problems elsewhere because it would mean a delay in the arrival of a consignment from SpaceX. There are six astronauts in the ISS and NASA has confirmed they are safe. Solar energy is the source of power for the sky lab and in view of problems with a section of the grid, the launch of the Dragon cargo capsule is postponed.

The Guardian reports that NASA plans to replace the unserviceable unit and ensure that there is full restoration of power before authorizing SpaceX to send across its consignment.

The problem is with one of the robotic arms on the ISS, which has to capture the Dragon once it arrives. Engineers are on the job and are trying to work out a solution so astronauts onboard the ISS may not be required to undertake any spacewalk.

There could be consequential delays

The authorities have confirmed that the delay of the SpaceX Dragon capsule will not have any major effect as such because supplies from another source arrived two weeks ago. However, technical teams are seized with the problem. The breakdown has resulted in the malfunction of one of the robot arms that requires two power sources.

One of these is the backup.

The Guardian adds that the function of the solar wings is to collect and generate electricity for the International Space Station as a whole and it falls in the category of a critical system.

Hence, any breakdown can have serious repercussions. Incidentally, the ISS is an example of what international cooperation can achieve when astronauts from different countries work side-by-side to achieve common goals.

NASA has its work lined up

According to Space, a glitch in the power system on the International Space Station has disturbed the tentative schedule of NASA and SpaceX.

They had planned the launch of a new Dragon cargo ship to the ISS but problems associated with the power system on the Skylab came as a dampener and they have identified fresh dates. Engineers on the ground are trying to come up with a solution and NASA officials have assured that "There are no immediate concerns for the crew or the station. Teams are working on a plan to robotically replace the failed unit and restore full power to the station system."

Astronauts on board the Skylab undertake spacewalks to repair minor issues but this is a more serious and complicated affair and flight controllers are working to evolve suitable alternatives, probably by routing power through a separate route.

This mission for the SpaceX Dragon capsule will be the 17th cargo delivery flight for NASA under a resupply contract. The consignment weighs 5,550 lbs. (2,495 kilograms) and carries fresh supplies apart from new science experiment equipment.