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  • Russia's First Launch of "Soyuz Epoch" a Failure
    Posted by Jason Rhian 7:21 PM on Aug 24, 2011

    blog post photo
    Russia's first launch in their "Soyuz Epoch" met with failure today. Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

    Within just a few days after the space shuttle Atlantis conducted the last landing of the shuttle era, Russia made the comment that this was now the “Soyuz Epoch.” If that is the case – today’s loss of the Progress cargo freighter atop a Soyuz Rocket is slightly disconcerting. The vessel and all of its cargo was lost when the spacecraft apparently failed to separate from the rocket’s upper stage at about five minutes and 50 seconds into flight.

    Mission controllers in Russia informed the six-person Expedition 28 crew that Progress 44 was lost. Russia’s Mission Control, located in Korolev, Russia desperately tried to regain contact with the doomed spacecraft to no avail. Russia promised to try and figure out what had gone wrong.

    Progress 44 was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) at 9 a.m. EDT on a resupply run. The spacecraft carried approximately three tons of water, food, fuel, oxygen and other supplies to the orbiting laboratory. It was supposed to dock with the ISS on Friday morning.

    This is the first launch of a Soyuz since the end of the shuttle program last month, which saw space shuttle Atlantis successfully deliver some 9,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the ISS. In the intervening period, Russia has touted the reliability of the Soyuz while making statements that it will dump the ISS into the Pacific by 2020. NASA did not immediately comment about its plans to include one of their astronauts, Dan Burbank, atop a similarly designed Soyuz Rocket next month on Sept. 21.

    An investigation will work to determine what caused the failure of the Soyuz upper stage to separate. This will undoubtedly mean that any crewed missions will be delayed until the investigation is completed and needed changes are implemented. NASA currently lacks the capacity to launch astronauts.

    Tags: Soyuz, Progress, NASA, ISS, Russia, os99

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