Monday, November 07, 2011

Next Station Crew Gets "Go" For Launch

The next crew of the International Space Station got a green light today to launch later this month on a flight delayed by an Aug. 24 Soyuz U rocket failure.

Senior managers in a flight readiness review gave a go-ahead for the Nov. 13 launch of U.S. astronaut Dan Burbank and two Russian cosmonauts: Anatoly Ivinishin and Anton Shkaplerov. The launch is scheduled for 11:14 p.m. EST at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Burbank and his crewmates had been scheduled to launch Sept. 21. Those plans were thwarted by the Aug. 24 Soyuz launch failure, which destroyed a robotic Russian Progress cargo carrier headed for the station.

The Soyuz U and the Soyuz FG, the latter of which is used to launch station crews, have the same type of third stage engine blamed in the failure. A state commission said contamination in a propellant line caused the loss.

The RD-0110 engines had flown about 1,800 previous missions without failure. All of the RD-0110 currently in the Russian fleet were re-inspected and no problems were found. A Soyuz U rocket successfully propelled a Progress space freighter to the station on Oct. 30. The carrier arrived at the station last Wednesday.

Burbank and his crew are slated to arrive at the outpost at 12:33 a.m. Nov. 16.

Current station commander Mike Fossum and two crewmates -- Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency -- are scheduled to depart the outpost on Nov. 21 and land in Kazakhstan at 9:25 p.m. EST that night.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the NASA image of the next crew of the International Space Station in training at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. From left to right are Anatoly Ivinishin, Anton Shkaplerov and Dan Burbank.

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