Soyuz Descent Module Fails Testing; ISS Launches May Be Delayed

Soyuz Descent Module Fails Testing; ISS Launches May Be Delayed

Russia’s news agency Itar-Tass reports today that the descent module of the next Soyuz spacecraft scheduled for launch to the International Space Station (ISS) experienced a failure during testing.   Initial Russian media reports said that future flights to the ISS would be delayed, but a more recent report says that no decisions have been made yet.

The Itar-Tass story posted at 15:15 today quotes Russian space agency (Roscosmos) official Alexei Krasnov as disputing earlier Russian media reports that the Soyuz TMA–04M launch would be delayed for several weeks from its current launch date of March 30.  He agreed that problems did occur during a test in an altitude test chamber at the Energia Space Rocket Corporation, but that it was a problem with a “service element” and not the descent capsule itself. 

Krasnov was quoted as saying “The deformation of a service system was detected. The committee was formed and is investigating how seriously the malfunction was: whether it was a material defect or technologies. Probably, next week some decisions will be taken.”   He did not dispute that a schedule delay might result, but downplayed the significance of such a slip.

The three ISS crewmembers scheduled to be launched on Soyuz TMA-04M are Russians Gennady Padakla and Sergei Rivin and NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba.     

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