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ISS threatened by possible ‘mold and bacteria contamination’ inside cargo spacecraft

Published time: June 18, 2013 16:43
Edited time: June 19, 2013 11:12
International Space Staion.(AFP Photo / NASA / Chris Hadfield)

International Space Staion.(AFP Photo / NASA / Chris Hadfield)

Mission control has instructed the crewmembers of the International Space Station (ISS) to open the hatches of the recently docked ATV-4 unmanned cargo spaceship and carry out disinfection procedures, over fears of mold and bacteria contamination.

The ATV-4 (the fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle) was launched from the Kourou space center in French Guyana on June 5, and docked with Russia’s Zvezda ISS module on Saturday.

The hatch opening was initially planned for Monday, but was delayed. According to NASA TV, the delay was over a possible “mold and bacteria contamination” on three bags inside the cargo ship.

“The level of contamination poses no risk to the crew members, however, teams want to make sure the problem is taken care of in order to protect the atmosphere aboard the space station,” website Spaceflight101 reported before the opening of the hatch.

US astronaut Karen Nyberg (L), Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin (C) and European Space Agency (ESA) Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano.(AFP Photo / Maxim Shipenkov)

Russian cosmonauts have taken samples from the cargo ship for analysis.

The European Space Agency stressed that the spacecraft was in good technical condition.

The ATV-4 contains 6.5 metric tons of fuel, water, oxygen and equipment, and is scheduled to remain docked with the ISS until October 28.

The spacecraft will then be de-orbited and ultimately sunk in the non-navigational waters of the Pacific Ocean.

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