Russian launch of new ISS crew members delayed until July: reports

Kyodo

The launch of the rocket that was to carry Japan’s Kimiya Yui and two other astronauts to the International Space Station this month has been postponed to July, Russian media reports said Friday.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said authorities in the countries involved in the Soyuz mission will rearrange the launch schedule next week.

The decision follows Russia’s failure on April 28 to put the cargo ship Progress in its proper orbit. Progress was carrying food and other supplies to the ISS. The Russian space agency is investigating the cause of the malfunction.

Russian news agency Interfax reported that the Russian spacecraft will head to the ISS “in mid-July,” while TASS news agency quoted a rocket and space industry source as saying the launch will be made “in the last 10 days of July,” given the time needed to adjust the flight program and launch another cargo craft before the manned Soyuz blasts off.

The three crew members, who are expected to stay on the ISS for about six months to carry out various experiments, were scheduled to depart May 27 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

“We passed Soyuz final exam! We had a great party last night,” Yui, a 45-year-old flight engineer, said in a Twitter post Friday.

Yui, commander Oleg Kononenko from the Russian Federal Space Agency and flight engineer Kjell Lindgren from NASA took the final exam for the mission on Wednesday and Thursday.

Their scheduled news conference on Friday was canceled.