Science & Environment

Russian cargo ship 'under control' official says

A cargo vessel which failed to dock with the International Space Station is under control, a Russian space agency official has said.

Mission controllers are still trying to establish what went wrong with the docking system on the ship.

The spaceship was carrying food, fuel and other supplies, but the station is still currently well stocked.

There will not be another attempt to dock the delivery vehicle before Sunday, officials said.

There had been a failure of radio contact needed to complete the docking, according to the US space agency Nasa.

But Russian space agency deputy head Vitaly Davydov later said the ship, called Progress, was not out of control.

"The Progress ship and the international space station are in working order and reliable communication with them is being maintained," Mr Davydov told Russian television.

The six astronauts on the space station were never in any danger during the incident, Nasa said.

The first docking attempt had been due to happen at 1658 GMT.

After the problem arose, the Progress was forced to make a "pass" of the space station. It did so at a safe distance of 3km and the gap between them is currently widening, Nasa said.

It has not yet been revealed what may have caused the equipment failure.

The Progress-type cargo ships have proved themselves reliable workhorses for re-supplying the ISS over many years and a failure to dock is rare, says BBC science reporter Matt McGrath.

The ISS project is a partnership of five - the US, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada. It currently has six crew, three Russian and three from the US.

The station functions as a research lab for various experiments in a low-gravity environment, as well as a platform for the testing of equipment used in space travel.

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