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[b]Power problem could cut short ATV stay at station[/b]
Expedition 30 flight engineer Andre Kuipers entered the "Edoardo Amaldi" Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 (ATV-3) on Friday (March 30), kicking off several planned weeks of cargo unloading. ATV-3 is slated to remain docked to the station until early September, however a power issue threatens to curtail the spacecraft's stay.
Late Thursday, Russian atmosphere scrubbers were activated to ensure the removal of any contamination that may have occurred on the ground when the ATV's pressurized cargo compartment was opened for pre-launch packing adjustments. When the scrubbers were activated, ATV flight controllers in Toulouse, France, reported the failure of one of two redundant Russian Equipment Control System channels that provide station power to ATV-3.
The backup power channel passed an initial test on Friday, but it has not yet been connected to station power systems. If a Saturday morning test is successful, the backup power channel will be used for a planned reboost Saturday afternoon using the ATV's thrusters. If the backup channel does not function properly, the reboost will be cancelled.
European Space Agency (ESA) flight controllers told Mission Control Houston, that if power systems cannot be restored to normal configuration, the newly arrived cargo craft's solar arrays won't be able to generate enough electricity because of sun angles. While it is highly unlikely, the situation could lead to an earlier than planned undocking of ATV-3.
NASA, ESA and Russian space agency flight controllers are working together on contingency plans to try to extend power to the ATV. The multinational team is drafting a plan for the unloading of critical cargo if a worst-case scenario should lead to an expedited undocking.
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