International Space Station
August 29, 2011

Russia Delays Sending Soyuz To ISS


Russian news agencies said on Monday that the country's space agency is delaying the return of astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS) and the launch of the next mission to the station.

The announcement comes after last week's failure to launch an unmanned supply ship to the ISS.  The space agency's Soyuz rocket failed after launch and crashed and exploded in a forested area of Siberia.

Russian news agencies report the head of Roscosmos' manned space operations, Alexei Krasnov, said the return of the three astronauts from the ISS was being put off from September 8 to about the September 16.  He also said the next launch to the space station would be delayed until the end of October or early November.

"If for some reason we fail to send up the next crew by the end of November, we will have to study all the available options, including one of leaving the station unmanned," Russian news agencies quoted Krasnov as saying.

Russia's Soyuz spacecraft are currently the only vehicles available to get crew to or from the space station since NASA ended its shuttle program.

A U.S. astronaut, Ronald Garan Jr., has been in orbit since April and was scheduled to ride aboard the Soyuz on September 8 to return to Earth.

Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin and U.S. astronaut Daniel Berbank are the crew scheduled for the next launch.

A rocket and its payload of three communications satellites fell into the Pacific Ocean after failing to reach orbit in December.  Roscosmos also lost a military satellite in February and a telecommunications satellite a few weeks ago.

NASA officials have said that the ISS crew has enough supplies on board to keep the orbiting laboratory up and running through at least November.


Image Caption: The International Space Station on 30 May 2011 as seen from the departing Space Shuttle Endeavour during STS-134. Credit: NASA


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