NASA and Russian managers of the International Space Station (ISS) have delayed until at least Friday a second attempt to undock the European Space Agency’s ATV-3 cargo spacecraft as they plan to use it to steer the ISS clear of approaching space debris.
“The orbit of the station will be readjusted with the help of the European ATV-3 space freighter,” a spokesman for the Russian mission control said on Wednesday.
The maneuver may become necessary to avoid a possible collision with Russian Cosmos-2251 satellite debris and a fragment of an Indian rocket, which are expected to float by the ISS at a distance of about 3.5 kilometers on Thursday.
NASA said on Wednesday that the three-person ISS crew “is in no danger and continues its work on scientific research and routine maintenance.”
ATV Edoardo Amaldi is still docked to the Zvezda service module on the Russian segment of the orbital station after an initial attempt to undock the spacecraft on Tuesday was called off due to a command error in the communications link between the ISS and the space freighter.
ATV-3 docked with the ISS on March 28, five days after it lifted off from the European launch center in Kourou, French Guiana. The freighter delivered seven tons of supplies, including scientific equipment.