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Fri, Feb 03, 2012

Soyuz For Next ISS Mission Not Able To Fly

Engineers Could Not Seal The Spacecraft, Delaying Mission

The Soyuz spacecraft that was to carry the next ISS crew to the station on March 30 has developed problems and will not be able to fly, according to sources inside the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

The spacecraft was scrapped after tests found the re-entry capsule could not be hermetically sealed. A source told the Interfax news agency that the entire TMA-04M spacecraft would be replaced, not just the re-entry vehicle. The source said it was easier to replace the Soyuz entirely, rather than try to swap out the re-entry module, because of changes in the hatch on the newer spacecraft. The spacecraft for the next planned mission will be moved up, but the delay is expected to be at least two months.

Roscomsos head Vladimir Popovkin said the next launch now could not be carried out until the end of April, and that he is in discussions with NASA this week about the situation. Soyuz remains the only spacecraft available to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS.



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