Failed mis­sion re­set for spring


The Citizen (KZN) - - WORLD -

Two as­tro­nauts who sur­vived the mid-air fail­ure of a Rus­sian rocket will fly again and are pro­vi­sion­ally set to travel to the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion (ISS) in spring next year.

Dmitry Ro­gozin, the head of Rus­sian space agency Roscos­mos, was speak­ing a day af­ter Rus­sian cosmonaut Alexei Ov­chinin and Amer­i­can Nick Hague made a dra­matic emer­gency land­ing in Kaza­khstan af­ter the fail­ure of the Soyuz rocket car­ry­ing them to the or­bital ISS.

Thurs­day’s ac­ci­dent was the first se­ri­ous launch prob­lem ex­pe­ri­enced by a manned Soyuz space mis­sion since 1983, when a crew nar­rowly es­caped be­fore a launch­pad ex­plo­sion.

Rus­sia is now un­der pres­sure to prove its space pro­gramme is safe or face los­ing lu­cra­tive fees to carry US as­tro­nauts into space.

Moscow has sus­pended all manned space launches un­til it finds out what went wrong and Ro­gozin has or­dered a state com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate. Rus­sia’s In­ves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee has also opened a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Sergei Krikalev, a se­nior Roscos­mos of­fi­cial, said Rus­sia may also de­lay a planned un­manned cargo ship­ment by a Progress space­craft to the ISS.

Un­manned cargo launches carry food and other sup­plies to the ISS and use the same rocket sys­tem as the Soyuz.

Rus­sia says there is enough food on board to last un­til April.

Three peo­ple are now aboard the space sta­tion: a Ger­man, a Rus­sian and an Amer­i­can. They were due to re­turn to earth in De­cem­ber, but may now be stuck there at least un­til Jan­uary.

Ro­gozin posted a pic­ture on Twit­ter of him­self seated next to the as­tro­nauts, say­ing they had es­caped un­scathed and feel fine.

The mishap oc­curred as the first and sec­ond stages of the rocket sep­a­rated shortly af­ter the launch from Kaza­khstan’s Soviet-era Baikonur cos­mod­rome.

The In­ter­fax news agency yes­ter­day cited a source fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion as say­ing an im­por­tant valve had failed to open due to a faulty fir­ing car­tridge. That had hin­dered the sep­a­ra­tion of the first stage of the rocket from its sec­ond stage. –

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