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Russian cargo vessel fails docking attempt at ISS

Little is known about the specific cause of the failure and Russian scientists are trying to analyze the problem.

An attempt to re-dock an unmanned Russian Progress M-15M supply ship with the International Space Station (ISS) failed Tuesday morning due to some technical problems, Russia's Mission Control Center (MCC) said.

The auto-docking maneuvere between the space station and the cargo vessel was aborted when a new rendezvous system failed to operate as expected.

Little is known about the specific cause of the failure and Russian scientists are trying to analyze the problem.

"Experts of an emergencies group are analyzing the situation and they will provide recommendations on what should be done next," Russia's federal space agency Roscosmos said Tuesday.

The spacecraft was at a safe distance from the ISS when the self-abort mode took hold at about 8:23 p.m. It will make another docking attempt on Saturday or Sunday after the scheduled arrival of the Japanese HTV-3 cargo ship on Friday.

Reattempt docking
The Progress cargo vehicle had arrived at the ISS in April. It undocked from the station's Pirs module on Sunday afternoon to perform tests on a new KURS rendezvous antenna which is designed to help future dockings of cargo ships to the space station.

"Docking was aborted...when the new KURS-NA automatic rendezvous system, which was being tested tonight, was set to be activated," said Dan Huot, NASA's mission control commentator. "A failure of an unknown nature occurred and caused the Progress's on-board computers to self abort and put the spacecraft into a passive abort trajectory."

The spacecraft was at a safe distance from the ISS when the self-abort mode took hold at about 8:23 p.m. It will make another docking attempt on Saturday or Sunday after the scheduled arrival of the Japanese HTV-3 cargo ship on Friday.

"As of right now, Russian ground controllers (are) indicating the next attempt for this Progress to dock to the International Space Station is likely to be this upcoming weekend, after that HTV-3 vehicle is berthed," Huot said. "But that final decision has not been made yet."

6 people on space station
The Progress freighter has not posed any threat to the ISS and its crew members.

There are currently six people on the space station, which orbits 350 kilometres above the Earth and occupied by international researchers.

American Sunita Williams, Japan's Akihiko Hoshide and Russia’s Yury Malenchenko joined Russians Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin and US astronaut Joseph Acaba this month.