TASS Takes Half Step Back on Soyuz MS Delay

TASS Takes Half Step Back on Soyuz MS Delay

Russia’s official TASS news agency, which yesterday reported that the next crew launch to the International Space Station (ISS) would be delayed, took half a step back from that report today.  Now it says if the problem with the Soyuz MS docking system can be fixed quickly, the launch could still occur on June 24 as originally planned.  If it takes longer, then the launch would be delayed to July 7.

The next crew launch is the first for the Soyuz MS variant of the venerable spacecraft, first launched in 1967.  Three astronauts — from NASA, JAXA and Roscosmos — will be aboard.  None of the space agencies has publicly announced a schedule change and today’s TASS story states that Roscomos “denied all rumors” that the mission has been delayed.

A decision will be made on Monday (June 6), according to the new TASS report.

The news agency cites unnamed industry sources for both versions — that there will be a delay or that there might be a delay.  One of its sources says that Energia, which builds Soyuz, has three days to solve the problem and if it can be fixed that quickly, the launch will take place as planned.  Another source, however, says the decision to delay already has been made and Monday’s meeting is simply to finalize it. 

The precise nature of the problem has not been specified in the TASS reports.

The three crew members waiting for their ride to ISS are NASA’s Kathleen (Kate) Rubins, JAXA’s Takuya Onishi, and Roscosmos’ Anatoly Ivanishin. 

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