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European Cargo Craft Undocking Postponed

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:10 am via: NASA
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The undocking of the European Space Agency’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-3) from the aft port of the International Space Station’s Zvezda service module, originally planned for 6:36 p.m. EDT Tuesday, was called off due to an issue with a display and command panel inside Zvezda.

Expedition 33 Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide, who together closed up the hatches to ATV-3 Monday, were preparing to monitor its automated departure when the issue arose at about 6:30 p.m.

A new date for the undocking of the spacecraft will be determined after a review of data to identify the cause of the problem.

ATV-3, also known as the “Edoardo Amaldi,” delivered 7.2 tons of food, fuel and supplies to the orbiting complex when it docked automatically at 6:31 p.m. March 28. The fourth ATV, named “Albert Einstein,” is slated to launch in April 2013. More than 32 feet long — about the size of a traditional London double-decker bus – the ATV is the largest and heaviest vehicle supplying the station since the retirement of the space shuttle.

Earlier on Tuesday, Commander Suni Williams participated in the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment, which measures the atrophy of the heart muscle that appears to develop during long-duration spaceflight. Investigators use the data from these tests to develop countermeasures to keep the crew healthy. The research may also have benefits for people on Earth with heart problems.

Hoshide assisted Williams with that experiment before he moved on to swapping out test samples in the NanoStep experiment, which studies the growth of protein crystals in a weightless environment.

Malenchenko spent his morning participating in a medical study and conducting routine maintenance in the Russian segment of the station.

With the evening’s undocking activities taking place later than the crew’s normal day, all three crew members were scheduled for a midday three-hour nap. Shortly before heading back to her crew quarters for that nap, Williams spoke with the Huffington Post’s David Freeman and CBS Radio’s Bill Harwood and Peter King for an in-flight interview from the station’s Destiny laboratory.

Throughout the day, the station’s residents also had several opportunities to observe and photograph the Earth. Among the sites recommended to the crew for photography Tuesday were Sydney, Australia, as researchers monitor the ecology and geohazards of the growing city, as well as the Juba River Fan in Somalia on behalf of the Somalia Water and Land Information Management organization. The station crew’s Earth-observation photographs are uploaded regularly to several NASA image sites. In addition, Williams occasionally posts photos to her Twitter account and invites users to attempt to identify them in a geography quiz.

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