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Robotic cargo spacecraft misses rendezvous with ISS

Zooms past as crew members watch

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An unmanned Russian cargo ship missed its scheduled rendezvous with the International Space Station on Friday after a telemetry lock between the two spacecraft failed. Engineers are scrambling to figure out why.

The robotic Progress 38 spacecraft sailed past the station as its crew tried in vain to regain telemetry with the it, NASA officials said. The ship was a couple miles away from the station when it zoomed by, so it never posed a threat to the six-person crew.

“The Progress literally flew past the station, but at a safe distance from the outpost,” NASA commentator Rob Navias said. “The station crew reported seeing the Progress drift beyond their view, as they worked to reestablish telemetry with the spacecraft.”

Launched Wednesday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the spacecraft carried 2.5 tons of supplies and equipment, including propellant for the station, 110 pounds of oxygen, 220 pounds of water and 2,667 pounds of dry cargo. NASA officials said they don't consider the supplies to be critical to space station operations.

The spacecraft was scheduled to dock at 16:58 GMT Friday, but lost its navigational lock about 25 minutes before. Russian flight controllers are trying to determine the cause of the snafu. The orbit of the Progress 38 made it doubtful it would be able to retry docking with the station on Friday.

More from Space.com and USA Today is here and here. ®

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