NASA: Launches on sched­ule de­spite Soyuz rocket crash

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - FROM PAGE ONE - By Amie Fer­ris-Rotman

MOSCOW — NASA’s top of­fi­cial sug­gested Fri­day that a new mis­sion to the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion could take place this year af­ter Rus­sian ex­perts ad­dress the cause of a Soyuz rocket mal­func­tion and the crew’s har­row­ing es­cape from the outer edge of the strato­sphere.

“At this point, we have not made any changes to the sched­ule. No changes have been made. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der­way,” NASA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Jim Bri­den­s­tine told re­porters.

That could mean an­other launch be­fore mid-De­cem­ber, when the three-mem­ber crew of the space sta­tion was sched­uled to end their six-month mis­sion.

Bri­den­s­tine said ex­perts have a “re­ally good idea” of what caused the booster to mal­func­tion about two min­utes into Thurs­day’s launch with NASA’s Tyler N. “Nick” Hague and Rus­sian cos­mo­naut Alexei Ov­chinin aboard.

“I think the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is go­ing to go swiftly,” he said, but gave no fur­ther de­tails on the pre­lim­i­nary find­ings.

Hague and Ov­chinin jet­ti­soned in an es­cape cap­sule from the Soyuz MS-10 rocket about 31 miles above the steppes of Kaza­khstan.

The cap­sule’s parachutes de­ployed, but the de­scent was steep and fast. NASA said Hague and Ov­chinin ex­pe­ri­enced more than six times the force of grav­ity be­fore tum­bling onto a grassy ex­panse more than 200 miles from the Rus­sian-op­er­ated Baikonur cos­mod­rome in Kaza­khstan.

Hague and Ov­chinin re­mained un­der med­i­cal ob­ser­va­tion Fri­day, but no se­ri­ous health prob­lems were re­ported.

The chief of the Rus­sian space agency Roscos­mos, Dmitry Ro­gozin, promised that both men will be given an­other chance to reach the space sta­tion.

“The boys will cer­tainly fly their mis­sion,” Ro­gozin tweeted, post­ing a pic­ture in which he sits with the two as­tro­nauts aboard a Moscow-bound plane. “We plan that they will fly in the spring.”

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