Feeds

Space truck Cygnus left idling outside ISS after data format snafu borks docking

Houston, where's our fresh underpants got to?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The operators of Cygnus – a commercial unmanned spacecraft sent on a demonstration mission to the International Space Station – have been forced to delay its docking with the microgravity laboratory after they discovered a software glitch.

It means that Cygnus won't dock with the ISS until Saturday, 28 September, at the earliest, it has been confirmed.

Trouble started to dog Cygnus over the weekend after it had initially undergone a smooth launch and approach to the ISS.

But its rendezvous with the outpost on the lab's Harmony module was aborted just six hours before Orbital Sciences Corporation's cargo capsule, carrying about 1,500lbs of goods, was supposed to dock with the ISS.

The company said that the craft had received data from the space station that it didn't expect. Cygnus rejected the data which, according to Orbital Sciences, "mandated an interruption of the approach sequence."

Cygnus blasts off on 18 September. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The software flaw, involving a data format discrepancy between the lab's on-board navigation system and a similar system on the space cargo truck, initially set Cygnus's approach to the ISS back by a minimum of 48 hours while engineers worked on fixing the problem.

But NASA and Orbital made the decision on Monday to postpone connecting Cygnus with the ISS until Saturday at the earliest, to allow Soyuz crew operations to be completed.

The software snag, which has now been resolved by Orbital, meant that the remainder of the mission had resulted in a tight schedule given the impending arrival of the Soyuz crew – two astronauts from the Russian Federal Space Agency and one from NASA – who are expected to rock up at the space station late tomorrow.

"This new schedule will allow the Orbital operations team to carefully plan and be well-rested before restarting the critical final approach to the space station. Meanwhile, Cygnus has all the resources needed to remain in orbit for an extended period of time," said Orbital's executive veep Frank Culbertson.

He didn't reveal exactly how long Cygnus can remain in space alone, however. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.