Cargo shipment to the ISS was delayed due to black mold discovered on two bags in which supplies are packed.
NASA announced that the cargo shipment will be delayed by two weeks. Two fabric bags were contaminated with black mold. Currently, the U.S. space agency is investigating possible contamination sources.
The cargo shipment to the International Space Station was scheduled on March 10th. The unmanned Orbital ATK Cygnus atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will be delayed by two weeks approximately.
As the supplies for the cargo shipment were prepared, the two fabric bags stood out during routine tests. The last mission bringing supplies to the International Space Station reached the orbiting station last year in December. The March resupply mission is the fifth heading to the ISS.
In light of the contamination with black mold, the spokesperson for the U.S. space agency’s Johnson Space Center, Dan Huot commented:
“Microorganisms are everywhere and this type of microorganism is not uncommon”.
Prior to each resupply mission, NASA is directly responsible for inspecting and disinfecting the fabric bags used to pack supplies. This ensure the quality of the cargo sent to the ISS and a safe environment for all members of the crew.
As the cargo shipment to the ISS was delayed due to black mold, NASA inspectors stated that the U.S. space agency is taking the two-week time to disinfect all bags that will carry supplies to the ISS crew. Despite black mold being found in only two cargo bags, the move is necessary to prevent another delay.
Safety is of outmost importance. Albeit black mold not presenting a threat to the health of the ISS crew, disinfection of all the cargo bags is still a necessary step. The pressurized Orbital ATK Cygnus was found free of black mold contamination.
Despite the two-week delay, NASA announced that the launch of Atlas V rocket carrying the Orbital ATK Cygnus shouldn’t interfere with another International Space Station-bound resupply mission. The latter is operated in collaboration with SpaceX. Elon Musk’s company hasn’t launched any resupply missions since April 2015. At the time, an accident prompted the grounding of SpaceX’s spacecraft and a thorough investigation into the causes.
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