Problems delay docking Russia cargo ship at space station

World Today

In this video screen grab taken from NASA, American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are interviewed at International Space Station on Wednesday, April 29, 2015. Kelly and Kornienko told AP during the interview, that flight controllers have given up trying to command the cargo carrier. The unmanned vessel began tumbling shortly after its launch Tuesday from Kazakhstan. (NASA via AP)

Russia’s Mission Control postponed the docking of a cargo ship with the International Space Station until Thursday after it failed to stabilize a cargo ship spinning out of control in orbit, but says it has not yet given up on saving the unmanned spacecraft.

The Progress M-27M was launched by a Soyuz rocket on Tuesday from Baikonur, Kazakhstan and was scheduled to dock at the International Space Station six hours later to deliver 2.5 tons of supplies, including food and fuel.

But flight controllers were unable to receive data from the spacecraft which had entered the wrong orbit.

NASA’s Mission Control later reported that a video camera on the Progress showed it to be spinning at a “rather significant rate,” and the Americans informed their Russian counterparts that due to these problems, Thursday would be too soon to attempt to dock for safety reasons.

Russian spacecraft, including those used to send astronauts to the International Space Station, recently have acquired the capability to take a more direct six-hour route to the orbiting outpost. But they still have the option of the longer, traditional route lasting two days.

It was unclear how long the Progress could keep orbiting the Earth while Russian flight controllers tried to stabilize the craft and restore the system that allows them to send and receive data. Earlier in the day, the MCC (mission control center) estimated that the spacecraft would re-enter the atmosphere on May 7-11.

Because of the loss of connection, the flight controllers were unable to confirm the deployment of the navigational antennas needed for docking, NASA and a duty officer at Russia’s Mission Control said.

Russia’s space agency (Roscosmos) and NASA both said the six crew members on board the orbiting space station have sufficient supplies and are in no danger.

The cargo ship also is delivering a copy of the Banner of Victory, the banner raised over the Reichstag in Berlin by victorious Soviet soldiers in 1945. Russia is planning extensive celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Report compiled with information from Xinhua and the Associated Press.