Crew at space station unable to unload supplies for second day because of docking glitch

The crew of the international space station waited for a second day Friday to unload supplies delivered by an unmanned Russian cargo ship after a problem that had prevented the spacecraft from latching firmly onto the space outpost.

"The process of docking has not been completed yet, the hatches are not opened," Mission Control spokeswoman Vera Medvedeva told The Associated Press. She declined to elaborate and refused to say whether a spacewalk might be needed to fix the problem.

The crew would check whether the docking unit was securely sealed and after balancing the pressure, would begin unloading the cargo, the Russian Space Agency said.

"According to preliminary assessments, neither the docking unit of the Progress supply ship nor the space station was damaged," Federal Space Agency spokesman Igor Panarin was quoted as saying by the Interfax-AVN news agency.

Panarin said that the problem that had prevented the docking was resolved late Thursday five hours after the craft first arrived at the station, but the crew needed to make checks before opening the hatches.

"The crew is feeling fine. Once again, I want to stress that everything is OK on board the space station," Panarin said in comments on state television.

The Progress M-58 cargo ship, carrying supplies to the station's three-man crew, docked at the station Thursday at 6:28 p.m. Moscow time (1428 GMT) on autopilot, as planned, reports AP.

Mission Control could not confirm, however, that its antenna had folded as required for the craft to clamp securely on the station although later it announced that it had solved the glitch.

Even if the ship could not be unloaded quickly, Russian space officials said the crew faced no danger and had enough oxygen, water and food.