February 06, 2012
Space Station Launches Re-juggled (again) Due to Soyuz Spacecraft Failure
By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor
NASA officially announced a delay in launching astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in this calendar year, but
SpaceX (News - Alert)
might get an earlier shot at its supply flight demo. The next Russian Soyuz flight to deliver crew to the space station has been pushed back to a May 15 target launch date. Improper testing on the Soyuz descent capsule scheduled for launch on March 30 ended up trashing the vehicle, so Russia is now moving up processing of the next capsule in line for a later launch.
According to Russian Space Web, the TMA-04M crew capsule was overpressurized to at three to four atmospheres during testing on January 22, blowing out welds and rendering the capsule unsalvageable. It isn't yet clear why testers blew past the normal 1.3 to 1.5 atmospheres specification used in testing, but the excessive pressure damaged the capsule beyond repair.
On a February 2 press call, ISS program manager Mike Suffredini did not seem to be concerned about the issue. “I have every confidence that they’ll figure out the cause of this and rectify it for the future,” he told reporters... Read More