Russia’s space problems continue.
Yesterday, TASS reported the following:
“Launch of Soyuz MS manned spacecraft, which is due to take a new expedition to the International Space Station, has been rescheduled for July 7 from June 24 due to control system flaws that may disrupt the ship’s docking with the ISS, a source in the Russian aerospace industry told TASS.” … “Experts have established the ship will be rolling as it docks the ISS and they are unable to stop this rolling motion so far.”
The Soyuz MS is the latest version of the long running spacecraft series which have carried Russian and partner crews to orbit since the late 1960’s. It also serves as the basis for the fully automated Progress cargo vehicle as well. As a result, problems in one often effect the other, and this case is no exception. According to the same report, the next Progress MS mission, which had been scheduled to lift off on July 7, now “may” launch on July 17th.
Both are launched by the Soyuz rocket, which despite its long history as the world’s most frequently flown booster, continues to experience problems of its own. On May 27th, a Soyuz launch of GLONASS navigation satellites, the Russian equivalent to GPS, saw a premature shutdown of the booster’s third stage, an incident which required the Fregat upper stage to compensate by performing a longer than planned burn to achieve the proper orbit.
That launch took place out of the northern launch site at Plesetsk, and utilized the 2.1b version of the venerable booster, while the Soyuz rocket which launches crew to ISS is the Soyuz FG.