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Software Glitch Delays Space Station Work by Several Hours


Astronauts working on the International Space Station faced a delay Thursday after a computer software problem temporarily held up plans to unfurl two large solar panels.

The U.S. space agency said a rotating joint failed to keep the panels pointed toward the sun. The accordion-pleated solar panels must be warmed by the sun and unfolded slowly to keep them from sticking together - a lesson astronauts learned in a similar operation in 2000.

Crew members solved the software problem, but it put the day's work several hours behind schedule.

The solar panels are expected to double the amount of power for laboratories, living chambers and other facilities on the space station.

Later Thursday the astronauts are expected to speak with reporters and prepare for a spacewalk scheduled for Friday.

The construction work on the space station is the first in nearly four years. Shuttle flights were suspended after the shuttle Columbia burned up in early 2003 on a return flight from space.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.