September 26, 2012 / 10:12 AM / 5 years ago

Space station undocking of supply craft delayed by glitch

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A computer glitch has delayed the undocking of a European cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station, the European Space Agency said on Wednesday, and it expects to set a new date after ground engineers fix the problem.

The three-person orbital crew - veteran Russian Yuri Malenchenko, Japan's Aki Hoshide and NASA astronaut Suni Williams - were due to close the hatch overnight of a Russian-built section that serves as a port to receive European robotic craft, which supply provisions to the space station.

"Teams at ESA, NASA and Roskosmos are now troubleshooting the problem to determine its source and a fix," the European Space Agency said on a blog tracking the spacecraft's journey.

"A new undocking date will be announced when known."

The ESA's unmanned Automatic Transfer Vehicle 3 is the third 32-foot cylindrical European spacecraft to carry food, water, fuel and other supplies to the station. After undocking, they are left to drop and burn up in the atmosphere over the Earth's oceans.

This is the first case of an issue with the docking of these spacecraft.

All three have been named in honour of historic figures, with the latest dubbed Edoardo Amaldi after the 20th-century Italian physicist and the two previous called Jules Verne and Johannes Kepler after the French science fiction writer and German astronomer.

Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; editing by Jane Baird

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