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Thruster Malfunction Delays Soyuz Crew From Docking With ISS

March 26, 2014
Image Caption: Expedition 39 Crew Launches Aboard the Soyuz TMA-12M Rocket. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

A planned dock of the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft to the International Space Station was delayed due to a thruster malfunction on Tuesday.  The Soyuz launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday afternoon and was scheduled to dock six hours later at about 11:07 p.m. EDT.

However, the spacecraft was unable to complete its third thruster burn, allowing for a fine-tuned approach to the docking station on the orbiting lab. The crew of the Soyuz, Future Expedition 40 Commander Alexander Skvortsov and Flight Engineers Oleg Artemyev and Steve Swanson are reportedly in good spirits as they await another attempt at docking sometime on Thursday.

Flight controllers at the Mission Control Center in Russia said they are reverting to a “34-orbit rendezvous,” which would result in an arrival and docking at about 7:58 p.m. (EDT) on Thursday, March 27. The plan is currently under review by engineers and a further update may be necessary. The Soyuz will dock at the ISS’s Poisk module.

Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata and Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio and Mikhail Tyurin, who were expecting to greet their new comrades Tuesday night, were explained of the situation and were readying for Thursday’s tentative arrival.

Flight controllers are now reviewing data to determine the reason why the third thruster burn did not fire. Initial data shared with Houston indicates the problem may have been that the spacecraft was not in proper attitude (orientation) for the burn.

The new trio of astronauts are scheduled to be aboard the ISS until September. They will officially become Expedition 40 when the Expedition 39 crew departs the space station in May.


Source: Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online



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