Source Pravda.Ru

Natural disasters delay shuttle launch

So a few weeks ago, the two astronauts who live there tossed out some useless junk, like so many old hubcaps for the trash heap. Only this stuff floated away in space.

And the throwing-away - done during a recent spacewalk - was done cautiously so that the discarded antenna covers and expired pump panel didn't become deadly boomerangs.

Such is life in space, &to=http://english.pravda.ru/accidents/2003/02/03/42911.html' target=_blank>post-Columbia. With no garbage pickup by shuttles for nearly two years, the international space station is looking more and more like a cluttered attic.

"Room limited," is how astronaut Mike Fincke describes it, reports The Seattle Times.

According to Boston Globe, shuttle deliveries and pickups will not resume until spring at the earliest. A barrage of hurricanes and their devastating blow to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's launch site have delayed the next shuttle flight, by Discovery, for at least a couple of months.

So trash will keep piling up.

"It's at the point where we have to figure out a way to handle it. You can't just wish it away. The garbage man isn't coming tomorrow to take everything away for you," said astronaut Kenneth Bowersox, who was the space station's skipper during the Columbia shuttle disaster.

&to=http://english.pravda.ru/science/2003/10/18/50586.html' target=_blank>Astronaut Michael Foale, another former space station commander, said that even more important than what Discovery brings on that first flight will be what it takes away.

&to=http://english.pravda.ru/main/18/88/354/13689_iss.html' target=_blank>Commander Gennady Padalka is confident he can clear the blockage and get the machine running again, said NASA spokesman Rob Navias.

In the meantime, Padalka took spare parts and installed them in a spare oxygen generator, which could serve as a replacement if necessary. Depending on what mission managers decide, Padalka and Mike Fincke could replenish their cabin with oxygen stored aboard the docked cargo carrier as early as Monday, Navias said.

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