Friday, September 24, 2010

Soyuz to try again tonight to undock from ISS

Russian officials plan to try again tonight to undock the Soyuz from the International Space Station after running into a problem late Thursday with the hooks and latches that bind the spacecraft to the outpost.

The Russian Space Agency waved off Thursday's attempt to bring the Soyuz and its crew of U.S. astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko home.

The spacecraft had been scheduled to undock at 9:35 p.m. and land at 12:55 a.m. today in Kazakhstan, but the Poisk docking module’s latch system failed to respond to commands. The latches are supposed to open sequentially allowing the Soyuz to separate from the station. However, repeated attempts to drive them open failed.

Earlier, there had been trouble closing and sealing the Poisk hatchway. Officials thought they had overcome that, but then the command to open the latches failed.

Russian teams continue trouble-shooting the problem. In the meantime, they are planning to try again tonight with an undocking scheduled at 10:02 p.m. That would bring the Soyuz crew home at 1:21 a.m. Saturday with a thump-down in the steppes of Kazakhstan.

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