Two Russian cosmonauts began to get crucial computers up and running, four days after they crashed at the international space station and curbed the outpost's ability to orient itself and produce oxygen.
The progress came on Friday after days of frustrating effort and, for the time being, removed a set of troubling options lying ahead for NASA and the Russian space agency if the computers continued to fail.
"We feel like the computers are stable and back to normal," said Mike Suffredini, space station program manager.
Cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov pulled off the feat by bypassing a power switch with a cable to get four out of six processors on two computers running.
The computers began operating the cooling system in one of the space station's Russian modules. But Suffredini said engineers would look at how the computers performed overnight before deciding whether they can start running other space station systems today.
Suffredini said he does not expect the two processors that currently are not working to come back online. They will be replaced.
Suffredini said engineers are still trying to determine what prompted the power switch to cause the computers to fail.
Had the machines continued to malfunction, the three-member space station crew could still have remained on board, but other steps would have been taken to maintain oxygen supplies. Russia had already begun to move up plans for a cargo ship to deliver supplies, including new computers, next month.