officials confirmed the crew of the International Space Station hasn’t been
'stranded' after the unmanned Progress M-12M cargo ship malfunctioned and
About five minutes after launch from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome, the
Progress cargo ship suffered a major malfunction and crash landed back on
Earth. The unmanned resupply vehicle was supposed to deliver three tons
of supplies and equipment to the ISS.
The Soyuz-U rocket couldn't help the Progress enter orbit in the right
position, and a planned September 22 rocket launch to the ISS will be delayed
until an investigation can be completed. There is one additional
scheduled launch before the end of the year, while there is growing
anticipation for the ATV-3 cargo ship launch in spring 2012.
"The anomaly has only just occurred; there's quite a bit of work
to do to sort through where we're at," noted Mike Suffredini, NASA ISS
manager. "If things work out and it looks like the Soyuz will be
able to fly then we'll let the crew on orbit stay until we do a normal
The ISS is currently manned by six crew members, with two Soyuz spacecraft
available if a hasty exit from the floating space lab is necessarily. One
NASA astronaut and two Russians are scheduled to return from the ISS in
September, and a skeleton crew will be responsible for the operation of the ISS
until a later date.
If necessary, the crew could logistically survive for a few more months before
a resupply mission must take place.
Since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle, there is more reliance on
Russia to help ferry astronauts and supplies from Earth into orbit. NASA
-- much to the dismay of some U.S. lawmakers -- is paying $63 million per seat
to help transport U.S. astronauts into space.