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NASA Probes Russian Supply Ship

November 29, 2001

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ A Russian supply ship docked to the international space station Wednesday, but may not have latched properly into place.

NASA officials said it was not immediately clear whether the potential problem would delay Thursday evening’s planned launch of space shuttle Endeavour on a station delivery mission. The concern is that a loose fit might damage the orbiting complex because of the force imparted by a docking shuttle.

The unmanned Progress ship, carrying more than 1 ton of food, fuel and other supplies, was launched from Kazakstan on Monday. It pulled up to the space station right on time, and the linkup initially appeared to go well. But NASA later said Russian flight controllers outside Moscow did not receive the expected indication that the hooks had closed and latched.

The space station’s steering system, turned off for the docking, remained off an extra three hours to give Russian flight controllers time to study the problem. Some laboratory equipment and other items were switched off to conserve power.

Everything was turned back on after Russian engineers determined the supply ship was attached securely enough for the steering system to operate.

Russia’s Mission Control worked into the night to assess the problem and considered asking the space station’s three residents for help Thursday.

NASA spokesman Bruce Buckingham said shuttle managers would address the problem at a Thursday morning meeting, held prior to the fueling of Endeavour.


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