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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Space Station Crew Successfully Frees Progress

garbage-laden cargo ship was finally undocked from the Mir space station Tuesday after the crew fixed the cause of the first failure to uncouple: the cosmic equivalent of leaving the parking brake on.


In what at first appeared to be renewed technical troubles on the collision-damaged station, a Progress M-35 loaded with refuse and worn-out scientific equipment did not respond to commands given to cast off from the station Monday.


The undocking was postponed and the cosmonauts were about to re-enter the sealed-off cargo ship to check its systems when they discovered the problem.


"They forgot to undo a clamp securing Progress to the station," said Vera Medvedkova, spokeswoman at Russia's mission control in Korolyov, outside Moscow. "They opened one of the two hatches between the ship and the station and saw it had not been undone. It was easy enough to put right."


There are 32 clamps that anchor the cargo ships to Mir.


The vehicle was undocked at 4:03 p.m. Tuesday and was due to be burned up in the Earth's atmosphere later in the day. The docking berth is now clear for another unmanned cargo ship already in orbit to dock at 9:13 p.m. Wednesday, a day late.


The seven-ton Progress M-36 was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome on Sunday and is carrying a spare computer and fuel, oxygen, water and scientific equipment to the station.


Mir is currently manned by cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyov and Pavel Vinogradov and NASA astronaut David Wolf, who arrived on the Atlantis space shuttle 10 days ago.


The crew checked the station's systems Tuesday, and Wolf performed scientific work, said officials at mission control. The astronaut's scientific program was hastily redesigned during the summer after another cargo ship struck the station on June 25 puncturing Spektr, where much of the U.S. science program is carried out.


Another walk into Spektr is planned for around Oct. 16 to repair the system that allows the crew to automatically adjust the solar panels on the module toward the sun.