Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Soyuz won't perform station flyaround

Russian space agency officials have apparently nixed proposed plans for a special International Space Station photo opportunity later this week using a Soyuz spacecraft, NASA confirms.

NASA officials are expected to discuss the decision at an 11:30 a.m. mission status briefing.

For the first and last time before the shuttle's retirement, all international partner spacecraft flown to the station are docked there together.

That includes the shuttle and two Soyuz that serve as lifeboats for station crews, and Russian, European and Japanse cargo vehicles.

With the station near completion after the addition of a last planned U.S. module today and all the visiting vehicles present, NASA porposed the flyaround to document the historict moment with photographs.

The proposal required approval from all the international partners including Russia, which apparently was not comfortable with risks involved.

The Soyuz would have been piloted by cosmonauts Alexander Kaleri, Oleg Skripochka and station commander Scott Kelly, who are scheduled to return to Earth March 16.

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