Supply ship hits docking snag

The International Space Station had to drift with reduced power following a docking drama. A cargo ship carrying 2.5 tons of food and other supplies failed to connect properly with the outpost when it arrived from Kazakhstan.

The space station switched off controls that normally keep its solar panels pointed at the sun to avoid colliding with the unmanned ship, Progress 23.

Flight controllers suspected that an antenna on Progress had failed to retract as commanded. But after three and a half hours they decided a software error was to blame and the cargo ship docked properly.

During the emergency, astronauts Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria, Mikhail Tyurin and Thomas Reiter powered down non-essential equipment to conserve electricity. But Nasa stressed that they were in no danger during the incident.

On Friday the men were due to open the hatch to unload food, fuel, oxygen and gifts from their families.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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