March 14, 2011

Roscosmos Delays March 30 ISS Mission

Officials at the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) have delayed the launch of a rocket set to carry three US and Russian astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) due to technical issues, various media outlets were reporting Monday morning.

"A decision to postpone" the launch of the Soyuz TMA-21 capsule, which was scheduled to take place on March 30, "to a later date" was made "due to technical problems," Roscosmos officials announced in a statement, according to Reuters.

In a statement posted to their official website, Russian space officials said in a technical management report that "an incompliance in operation of the Kvant-V equipment in Soyuz TMA-21" had been "detected during launch campaign at Baikonur."

They announced that the postponement was due because of "the necessity to run additional analysis of the glitch" and that "failure of a condenser" was being blamed.

Furthermore, Roscosmos had announced that a "special working group has been established to investigate the incompliance. The group which comprises reps of manufacturers and developers, RSC-Energia--prime contractor on human space system flight testing, and TSNIImash, leading R&D company of the industry."

No new launch date was officially announced, but speculation has already begun. According to AFP, the RIA Novosti news agency said that the launch could take place between April 5 and April 7. Reuters, meanwhile, says that state news bureau Itar-Tass said it could blast off on April 7, and that Interfax--citing a "space industry source"--says that it could be delayed until April 10.

"The launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is of huge importance to Russia as it comes ahead of the 50th anniversary of the first human space flight by Yuri Gagarin on April 12," AFP reporters added in their Monday article discussion the delay.

"The delay is likely to increase concerns about Russia's reliability on rides to the ISS just before NASA mothballs its shuttle later this year, leaving it entirely dependent on the Russian Soyuz," Reuters added.

Once the Soyuz does take flight, its mission will be to transport NASA astronaut Ronald Garan and Russian cosmonauts Andrei Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyayev to the ISS.


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