Russian-US crew aborts return to Earth
Moscow, September 24, 2010
Two Russians and a US astronaut aborted a return to Earth on Friday when their space capsule failed to separate from the International Space Station.
'This situation has never occurred before,' a spokewoman at Russian Mission Control near Moscow said, as space officials scrambled to determine the cause.
Nasa astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson and two Russian crew mates climbed into a Soyuz capsule hitched to the station for the descent, but latches holding the craft to a docking port failed to open, the spokeswoman said.
The only other window for a second undocking attempt last night passed without a solution to the problem.
Russia's space agency chief Anatoly Perminov told reporters at Mission Control that Dyson, Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Korniyenko's return to Earth after nearly six months in space had been rescheduled for tomorrow.
The docking mechanism did not function because the station's computer sent a false signal indicating the hatch between station and capsule was not fully sealed, Perminov said.
He said technicians had found no problem with the seals, and suggested they were still puzzling over exactly went wrong.
A second undocking attempt 'could have gone ahead today, but we need additional time to make sure we have reliable information about the problem,' Perminov told a terse news conference at Mission Control.
'There is no point in rushing,' he said. Perminov refused to take questions, saying he did not want to fuel rumours.
The website of the US space agency NASA said the crew had sent down video and photographs of a small star-shaped gear with two broken teeth. Experts were trying to determine whether it was related to the problem.
Russian Mission Control and the US space agency NASA's Mission Control in Houston agreed the three crew members would go back to the space station and await a fresh undocking attempt tomorrow, NASA said.
Three other crew members, Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronauts Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker, would remain aboard the station as planned after tomrrow's departure.
'I see no technical problem on the station or anywhere that would threaten the crew,' Perminov said.
Another Russian space agency official, Alexei Krasnov, said the landing should now take place tomorrow at about 9:20am.
Skvortsov, Korniyenko and Dyson boarded the space station on April 4 after a flight up together in the Soyuz TMA-18 craft, which will also be used for their return to Earth.
At least two mishaps have already marred their stay. Failure of one of two cooling systems in August set off equipment shutdowns. In July, a faulty radio link forced an unmanned cargo ship to delay docking for two days.
US space shuttles have delivered some astronauts to the station, but single-use Russian Soyuz craft will ferry all crews after the Nasa retires its shuttle fleet next -Reuters
More INTERNATIONAL NEWS Stories
- Missing jet may have strayed to Andaman
- Gold hits near 6-month high
- 2 killed in Manhattan building blast
- Cameron pushes for travel bans on Russian MPs
- Indian coastguards join Malaysia jet search
- Confusion as search for lost jet spreads
- Military denies lost plane's flight to Malacca
- Investors monitoring Pimco after internal strife
- N Korea tanker ‘leaves Libya rebel port carrying oil’
- Malaysia plane incident not terror related: Interpol
- Crimea closes air space to commercial flights
- Missing Malaysian plane last seen At Malacca Strait
- Stolen passport holder on missing plane is Iranian
- China deploys 10 satellites to search for Malaysia jet
- Libya says halts tanker outside port; rebels deny it
- Libya orders military force to 'liberate' ports
- Big bananas: Chiquita, Fyffes merge
- Radar sweeps, dozens of aircraft, but no sign of plane
- N Korea tanker loads oil at Libya rebel port
- Gold drops as US growth optimism weighs
- Merkel raps Putin; Russia tightens grip on Crimea
- World 'at sea' over missing Malaysian jetliner
- Passports requiring probe were on Malaysia flight
- 40 killed in Yemen as Houthi fighters near capital
- Vietnam finds object in sea; search on
- $5bn poll spend to boost India economy
- Libya authorises use of force against Korean tanker
- Ukraine PM says he will go to US to discuss crisis
- Syrian journalist killed covering fighting
- Malaysian jet may have turned back before vanishing