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Russian crash delays space mission until Nov 12

09-14-2011 14:13 BJT

MOSCOW - Russia said on Tuesday it has postponed the next manned mission to the International Space Station until Nov. 12, more than a month later than initially planned over safety concerns following the crash of an unmanned cargo flight last month.

Three astronauts were forced to remain in space for an extra week and partners in the $100-billion station eyed leaving it unmanned for the first time in a decade after the Russian rocket failure on Aug. 24 sent the Progress cargo craft raining back to Earth in fiery bits.

Half of the current station crew -- NASA's Ron Garan and cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyayev and Andrey Borisenko -- will land on the Kazakh steppes early on Friday, leaving a skeleton three person mission in orbit until their replacements arrive.

An investigation into the crash of Russia's Soyuz rocket -- a model nearly identical to that used for manned space flights -- found a production fault that prevented fuel from reaching the gas generator caused the engine to fail in the upper-stages.

The next launch sending crew to the station will be the first since the US space agency retired its 30-year shuttle programme in July, and the crash has increased concerns at NASA over relying entirely on Russian craft to send people to space.

Russia's space agency also said it had scheduled a new Progress supply mission on October 30 to carry food and fuel to cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, astronaut Mike Fossum and Japan's Satoshi Furukawa, who remain on board the orbital research station run by 16 nations.

 

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: China Daily

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