Astronauts aboard the International Space Station, working with flight control teams, connected a backup Russian electrical supply source to the European Space Agency's recently arrived Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 on Saturday afternoon, easing concerns the unpowered freighter might have to be jettisoned on Monday afternoon.
Electricity began to flow to the freighter from the station's Russian segment Equipment Control System, or RECS, shortly after 1 p.m., EST.
The freighter docked with the station's Zvezda service module Thursday evening, delivering more than seven tons of propellant, food clothing, water, oxygen, research gear and other supplies. Within hours of the smooth linkup, the Russian power feed tripped during an air cleansing operation within the 35-foot-long capsule.
A backup power source was activated Friday but could not be tied into the ATV until Saturday. Though solar powered, the ATV was going to loose adequate amounts of sunlight on Monday due to changes in the solar beta angle on the station's orbital plane. The combination of events threatened to prompt the early jettison.
Launched Mar. 23, the freighter is to remain parked at the station through late August, serving as a propulsion source for regular altitude raising and occasional debris avoidance maneuvers.
The first of the altitude maneuvers is scheduled for Saturday, just before 6 p.m, EST. The near five minute maneuver will set up the nearly one million pound orbital science lab for the arrival of Russia's Progress 47 supply craft, which is scheduled for an April 20 lift off. The phasing maneuver will also set up landing opportunities for three of the station's six-man crew on April 27 and the launch of three replacements in mid-May.
Station commander Dan Burbank and his five U.S., European and Russian crew mates spent much of Saturday also scrambling to off load the ATV in case of an early departure.