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  • Eventful Day of ATV-3 Power Toubleshooting Ends With Successful Space Station Re-boost
    Posted by Mark Carreau 10:10 PM on Mar 31, 2012

    With electricity flowing through a backup Russia power source, the European Space Agency's recently arrived Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 roared to life for a near five-minute International Space Station orbit raising maneuver late Saturday.

    The boost capped a long day for the station's six-man crew and flight control teams in Houston, Moscow and Toulouse.

    And in the long term, the 5:54 p.m., EST, maneuver positioned the station for the arrival of Russia's Progress 47 supply craft, which is scheduled to lift off for the orbiting science laboratory on April 20; the April 27 Soyuz descent to Earth by three of the crew; and the May 15 Soyuz launch with a trio of replacements.

    "Everything is nominal," Russia's Mission Control informed station commander Dan Burbank and his five U. S., European and Russian colleagues at the maneuver's conclusion.

    The ATV-3 docked smoothly with the station's Russian Zvezda service module late Wednesday. But by late Friday, there was a daunting power issue that threatened to force a jettisoning of the  35-foot long European freighter on Monday.

    A primary station to ATV-3 Russian power source faltered as fans inside the capsule revved to cleanse the air of dust before the crew entered. The backup power source activated but could not be quickly merged into the ATV-3.

    By Saturday morning, it looked as though the solar powered ATV-3 was not optimally docked for sunlight to fall on the freighter's solar panels because of a changing beta angle. The solar power margin was fading, forcing a possible jettison of the supply capsule as soon as Monday afternoon.

    The station crew allied with their ground control teams, rushed Saturday to troubleshoot the Russian power issue, while off loading the ATV's cargo of food, clothing, research gear and other dry goods  as quickly as possible.

    The ATV arrived with more than seven tons of supplies.
    Station program managers were counting on the supply ship to remain berthed until late August, providing the propulsion for regular altitude raising  and the occasional orbital debris avoidance maneuvers.

    The power connection was made Saturday just after 1 p.m., EST, rescuing the ATV mission.

    Tags: os99, ISS, space12

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