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viernes, 24 de septiembre de 2010

Stuck in Space

A Russian Soyuz capsule that was to ferry three space station crewmembers back to Earth early Friday remained stuck in its berthing port, delaying the trio’s homecoming by at least a day.

Station commander Alexander Skvortsov and flight engineers Mikhail Kornienko and Tracy Caldwell Dyson planned to depart the outpost at 9:35 p.m. EDT Thursday, wrapping up a six-month mission. Three crewmates remained aboard the station and three new additions are due to arrive Oct. 9.

After resolving problems with airtight seals between the Soyuz spacecraft and the station’s Poisk docking module, Skvortsov sent commands for the Poisk’s latches and hooks to open. Nothing happened.

Russian flight controllers delayed the departure while they coached Skvortsov through a variety of trouble-shooting procedures, but the latches remained closed. Attempts to separate the capsule were called off at 12:15 a.m. EDT and the crew was told to head back into the station.

Engineers are reviewing photographs, video and instrument readings to try to resolve the problem, which is believed to be caused by an electrical short. The crew’s departure has been tentatively rescheduled for Friday night.

(Another day's stay for the returning Expedition 24 crew. Credit: NASA)

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