Monday, May 26, 2008


Report from reuters:

File photo:

Smoke can be seen rising after the Soyuz capsule, carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew , landed in northern Kazakhstan April 19, 2008.

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The crew of the International Space Station (ISS) could have a rough return to Earth because their re-entry capsule has the same glitch that caused problems on the last two landings, a Russian space industry source said.

Concerns have been raised about the safety of the Soyuz because the last two re-entries have not gone to plan: they were so-called "ballistic" landings where the entry into the atmosphere was steeper than usual.

In the last landing in April, the crew of U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, South Korean Yi So-yeon and Russia's Yuri Malenchenko landed about 420 km (260 miles) off course and they were subjected to twice the expected gravitational forces.

The space industry source, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters faulty bolts were suspected of causing the last two "ballistic landings" and they are also fitted on the re-entry capsule now docked at the ISS.

"There are explosive bolts which keep two modules attached to Soyuz capsules," the source said. "They are supposed to go off right before the entry into the Earth's atmosphere."

"For some reason this didn't work (on the previous two re-entries), although the unseparated modules fell off eventually. What is bad is that another Soyuz-TMA is believed to have this faulty device and is docked at the ISS for the return trip," he said.

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