September 28, 2012
Credit: Credit: NASA
HOUSTON — International Space Station team managers settled on Sept. 28 at 5:46 p.m. EDT for the delayed departure of the European Space Agency’s ATV-3 resupply craft, after NASA’s Mission Control suspended plans for an orbital debris avoidance maneuver by the orbiting science lab.
Initial efforts to undock the unpiloted freighter from the station’s Russian segment were abruptly called off Sept. 25 because of a communications error between a command panel laptop in the Zvezda module and the ATV-3.
The error was later traced to the use of an incorrect spacecraft identification number.
Mission managers then held up the undocking further while NASA flight controllers monitored 10-cm fragments from a 2009 collision between Russian and U.S. communications satellites and a 2001 Indian rocket launch that threatened to pass close enough to the station to warrant an avoidance maneuver using the ATV-3’s propulsion system.
Plans for the Sept. 27 maneuver were called off when further radar tracking revealed the collision threat had diminished. The ATV-3 docked on March 28, delivering more than 7 tons of supplies and research gear.