Despite a serious computer meltdown, NASA has left an astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts on the limping international space station without problems.
"I think we're in good shape. We've still got a lot of options to work through," space station program manager Michael Suffredini said in an afternoon briefing.
He said there was no urgency now that would require the crew of the orbiting outpost to come home. "We have plenty of (oxygen) gas to keep the crew on orbit for some time," Suffredini said.
He refused to speculate about prospects long-term if the computers are not back in service.
Meanwhile, two astronauts from the space shuttle Atlantis, which arrived one week ago to continue construction work on the space station, began a spacewalk with two assignments: to disconnect a connector on a newly installed power-conducting truss that is a key suspect in the computer glitch, and repair a torn thermal blanket that helps protect the shuttle from heat on its return flight to Earth next week.
NASA suspects the connector because the Russian computers blinked out at about the same time the connector went on line. The connector is not required for station operations until a later power hook-up, Suffredini said.
"It's circumstantial,' he said. "We don't know if that's the cause."