Russian cargo ship fails to dock with ISS: mission control

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An unmanned Russian Progress cargo ship on Friday failed to dock as planned with the International Space Station (ISS) after missing the facility, mission control said.

The Progress M-06M cargo ship, launched on June 30, is carrying 2.6 tonnes of fuel, food and water for the astronauts on the station. Failure of automatic docking systems is relatively common but a complete docking failure is rare.

"The docking was scheduled at 20:58 Moscow time (1658 GMT)," a spokeswoman for mission control told AFP.

"The cargo ship passed the station, at a safe distance. It could be said that it missed. Now the vessel is 3.0 kilometres (1.8 miles) from the station. Our specialists are monitoring the situation."

"It is likely that there will be no further attempts to dock the vessel today," the spokeswoman added.

The ITAR-TASS news agency said that initially the ISS crew had tried to dock the cargo ship automatically but then there was a technical problem and they were not able to carry out the manoeuvre manually.

The Interfax news agency said that the ISS commander, Alexander Skvortsov had told mission control that the cargo vessel was seen in a state of "uncontrollable spinning".

However deputy spokesman for mission control Vitaly Davydov told state television that the cargo ship was fully under control, adding that a new attempt at docking would be made on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for mission control told the official RIA Novosti news agency that the mishap was not an emergency situation.

"Information has come via telemetry that there is no emergency situation on the cargo ship."

The ISS, which orbits 350 kilometres (220 miles) above Earth, is a sophisticated platform for scientific experiments, helping test the effects of long-term space travel on humans, a must for any trip to distant Mars.

© 2010 AFP

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