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The ISS crew will not receive fresh supplies after the Russian space program suffers another setback

Space officials confirmed the crew of the International Space Station hasn’t been 'stranded' after the unmanned Progress M-12M cargo ship malfunctioned and crashed.

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 rotation."

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.





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