Russia delays Soyuz flight to space station

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 4:17 PM

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has delayed this month's launch of a Soyuz capsule that is to carry U.S. and Russian astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) due to technical problems, the Russian space agency said on Monday.

"A decision has been taken to postpone the launch of the Soyuz TMA-21 from March 30 to a later date due to technical problems," Roskosmos said in a statement. It did not specify a new launch date.

The Interfax news agency cited an space industry source as saying the new launch date would pushed backed to April 10, while state news agency Itar-Tass said it could be on April 7.

NASA astronaut Ronald Garan and Russian cosmonauts Andrei Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyayev are set to travel to the ISS aboard the Soyuz after it blasts off from Russia's Baikonur launchpad in Kazakhstan.

The delay is likely to increase concerns about Russia's reliability on rides to the ISS just before NASA mothballs its shuttle later this year, leaving it entirely dependent on the Russian Soyuz.

(Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel)