Trouble with a Russian Soyuz spacecraft could force delays in the launches of the next two International Space Station crews, Russian media reports suggest.
Alexei Krasnov, chief of human spaceflight for the Russian Federal Space Agency, told ITAR-TASS that a Soyuz spacecraft malfunction during recent tests in an altitude chamber at Energia Sp[ace Rocket Corp., a major contractor. The trouble was detected in the service module of the spacecraft, Krasnov said.
Several other Russian media reports suggested the planned March 30 launch of three new crew members might be delayed until late April or early May. A launch now scheduled for late May might be pushed back to late June, the reports said.
Krasnov did not rule out the possibility of launch delays. He noted that the astronauts and cosmonauts on the station now launched two months later than initially planned and could extend their stays as a result.
Krasnov said officials were glad that the trouble was detected before the spacecraft was shipped to Baikonur Cosmodrome for launch. “It is very good that upon the results of the tests we received critical remarks before the spaceship was brought to the Baikonur spaceport, because we have some time and possibilities to examine everything in detail,” he said.