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After Delay, Space Station Crew Opens Hatch to Cargo Supply Ship

  • Lisa McAdams

A technical problem that plagued Thursday's docking of a Russian cargo ship to the orbiting International Space Station has been resolved, allowing the crew to unload fresh supplies.

After several hours of checking that the cargo ship was securely docked to the station, mission control gave the go-ahead for the crew to begin unloading fuel, food and water from the cargo ship, which blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan earlier this week.

The move was only possible after it was determined the unmanned Russian spacecraft had properly latched onto the orbiting outpost. During an initial docking attempt Thursday, the supply craft failed to latch completely.

Russian Space Agency official Nikolai Sevasteenov says the concerns stemmed from Mission Control's inability to determine whether the cargo ship's antenna had folded properly, as is required for a secure docking.

With the trouble solved, the three-man crew of the International Space Station was happy to open the hatches and begin unloading.

Russian space agency officials stress similar problems have been encountered before. They say, at no time was the crew in any danger.

Friday's delivery means the crew can look forward to enjoying videos and letters from home.

American astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, and German astronaut Thomas Reiter have logged a little over a month in space as part of a six-month tour to the International Space Station.