After Glitch, Russian Spacecraft Docks

space station September 2006 AP

An unmanned Russian supply ship successfully latched onto the international space station Thursday after an earlier attempt failed, an official said.

"The repeat attempt to hook up the ship with the station has been a success," Mission Control spokesman Valery Lyndin told The Associated Press.

A faulty antenna apparently prevented an unmanned Russian cargo ship from mooring completely to the international space station earlier Thursday, but the three-man crew was not in any danger, Mission Control said.

The antenna on the Progress M-58 spacecraft apparently failed to fold, keeping the ship from hooking up fully, said Mission Control spokesman Valery Lyndin, adding that Mission Control experts were looking into the problem.

"The problem poses no danger to the station's crew," Lyndin told The Associated Press.

U.S. astronaut Michal Lopez-Alegria, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyrin and German Thomas Reiter have enough oxygen, water and food in case the cargo ship can't be quickly unloaded, said Russian Space Agency spokesman Igor Panarin.

The cargo ship docked smoothly on autopilot at 10:28 a.m. EDT, said Lyndin, who initially described the operation as "trouble-free." It had blasted off Monday from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying about 2½ tons of supplies and equipment.

In addition to regular supplies, the ship delivered equipment for repairing a Russian-built oxygen generator that overheated and spilled a toxic irritant last month, forcing the crew to don masks and gloves in the first emergency ever declared aboard the 8-year-old station.

Russian and U.S. space officials played down the incident with the Elektron device, saying crew members' lives were never in any danger. The station has plenty of oxygen reserves and alternative oxygen generating devices to make up for the broken Elektron until it is fixed.

The Progress also carried letters, CDs, DVDs and other gifts to the crew.

Included in the cargo were meals cooked by celebrity chef Alain Ducasse, according to France's National Center for Space Studies. The menu includes caponata, a Sicilian dish made of peppers, tomatoes and zucchini; roasted quail in a wine sauce from France's Madiran region; smooth celery root puree with nutmeg; and rice pudding with preserved fruit.

The meals are designed for special occasions aboard the station.
  • Lloyd Vries

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