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  • Space Station Crew Hustles to Overcome ATV-3 Power Problem
    Posted by Mark Carreau 2:34 PM on Mar 31, 2012

    blog post photo
    Solar-power ATV-3 nears linkup with the International Space Station on Thursday
    Photo Credit/NASA TV 

    Astronauts aboard the International Space Station and their flight control teams scrambled Saturday in a bid to route backup electricity to the newly docked European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 while simultaneously removing cargo in the event the unpowered freighter must be cast off as soon as Monday afternoon.

    The ATV docked smoothly to the aft end of the station's Russian service module on Thursday at 6:31 p.m., EST.

    But later that night, the primary power supply to the freighter through the station's Russian segment failed during a mandatory pre-entry air scrubbing operation.  A backup power channel through the Russian Equipment Control System was activated Friday but could not be immediately routed into the ATV power feed.

    Though solar powered, the ATV itself will not be able to generate its own electricity as of Monday because of the changing solar beta angle, or the orientation of sunlight falling on the orbit plane of the space station as it circles the Earth, according to the ATV Control Center in Toulouse, France. Station managers have opted not to re-orient the entire station, with its complex cooling requirements, into a more favorable orientation for the ATV.

    If the backup Russian power channel cannot be integrated into the ATV this weekend, the NASA-led station program management team could decide to jettison the European supply ship on Monday between 2:45 p.m. and 7:18 p.m., EST, according to a NASA status report.

    The European supply capsule, christened the Edoardo Amaldi, delivered just over 14,000 pounds of cargo, including propellant, food, water, oxygen, clothing and research gear.

    The supply capsule was scheduled to remain docked until late August, serving as a propulsion source for regular station altitude raising and occasional orbital debris avoidance maneuvers as well as a receptacle for trash and other station discards.

    The ATV-3 delivery included just over a ton of dry cargo -- much of it food and clothing -- stowed in 160 cargo bags.

    Station commander Dan Burbank and has five U.S., European and Russian colleagues set aside their usual weekend off duty plans and began moving the equipment to the station on Saturday morning.

    Tags: os99, ISS

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