Crew's return postponed as malfunction probed

After a cargo ship malfunctioned, agencies have rescheduled trips to the International Space Station. Image: NASA.
After a cargo ship malfunctioned, agencies have rescheduled trips to the International Space Station. Image: NASA.
Ever get stuck at work or school? Say there’s a snowstorm or a hurricane, and you end up camped out on the floor beneath your desk. Now imagine being stuck at a workplace some 200 miles above the Earth.

     Depending on your point of view, it could either be scary or maybe the best news ever. But that is what has happened to astronauts at the International Space Station. In the wake of a failed robotic mission in April, NASA has announced that space station partners were rescheduling trips to and from the station.
      That means astronauts Terry Virts of NASA, Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov will now return in early June. They began their mission March 11, according to NASA, and were to return this week, on May 13.
     But the space agencies had second thoughts about the return plans after “hearing the Russian Federal Space Agency's (Roscosmos) preliminary findings” regarding the loss of the cargo craft, Progress 59, a NASA press release said.
     The Russian cargo craft malfunctioned April 28 soon after it was launched. It carried more than 3 tons of food, fuel and supplies, according to NASA. Russian flight controllers were unable to communicate with it, and attempts to link the cargo ship and space station were called off. Astronauts said that the ship would burn up as it re-entered the atmosphere. The Russian space agency is expected to give an update on May 22 to discuss its investigation into what went wrong.
     Meanwhile, another Russian cargo craft will deliver supplies in July. Astronauts and cosmonauts from the U.S., Japan and Russia will also head for the station in late July.
     NASA's space shuttle program ended in July 2011. Since then, American astronauts have been dependent on Russian spacecraft for transportation to the station -- but NASA officials have said they wish to end this reliance by 2017. In 2014, NASA awarded Boeing Co. and SpaceX a total of $6.8 billion in contracts to transport astronauts to the International Space Station.
     NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka will stay aboard the station to begin Expedition 44. Kelly and Kornienko are to remain at the station for an entire year.   


     Update: Cargo ship malfunctions

     Boeing, SpaceX to fly astronauts to station

      Contact us