The International Space Station (ISS) has had a severe go of late, with no fewer than 3 launch pad accidents that prevented load vehicles from removing to circuit in a past year alone. Now another problem aboard a ISS itself competence forestall a vehicles that do get to space from indeed advancing with a station—and one of those vehicles is on a approach soon. That could obligate an puncture spacewalk by commander Scott Kelly and wanderer Tim Kopra on Monday or Tuesday.
The problem involves a space station’s robotic arm, that moves from place to place along a station’s executive constrict aboard a arrange of tiny rail car. When an uncrewed load automobile arrives, it’s a pursuit of a arm to strech out and squeeze it, afterwards palliate it in for a docking. But dual days ago, as a arm was relocating along a truss, it got stranded only 4 inches (1o cm) from where it needs to be to fastener an incoming ship.
“Late Wednesday, a Mobile Transporter rail automobile on a constrict was being changed by robotic moody controllers… to worksite 4 only starboard of a centermost position on a constrict for load operations when it stopped moving,” NASA orator Rob Navias told TIME in an email. “Cause is still being evaluated, though competence be a stranded stop handle.”
That comes during a really bad time. On Monday, a Progress 62 load automobile is scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan in credentials for a advancing with a hire dual days later. NASA and a Russians could face a twin dramas of a Progress countdown move during a same time Kelly and Kopra are scheming to repair a transporter car.
“If a emanate is not resolved we would have a contention with a Russian colleagues,” Navias said. “The launch on Monday is scheduled during 3:44 AM Eastern time. The EVA would start about 4 hours later.”
The ISS organisation is in no risk of using out of reserve no matter what. A load automobile did successfully get off a pad and into space on Dec. 6, and a hire is always heavily provisioned precisely opposite a probability of launch delays. Still, a stream problem and a high-wire act that competence be required to arrange it out is one some-more sign that even for an orbital outpost that has been ceaselessly assigned for 15 years now, space never has—and never will be—easy.
TIME is producing a array of documentary films about Scott Kelly’s yearlong goal in space. Watch them here.