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Russia plans next manned launch to ISS in December

Staff Writer |
A new team of astronauts will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) in December following a recent launch failure, a senior Roscosmos official said Wednesday.

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"The landing of the current ISS crew was scheduled for the middle of December, and then the next crew was supposed to be launched," said Sergei Krikalyov, executive director of manned space programs at the Russian state space corporation.

"But to avoid unmanned functioning of the ISS, the industry is now making significant efforts to shift the launch to Dec. 3 and to carry out the landing around Dec. 20," Krikalyov added.

Before the Dec. 3 mission, the Progress MS-10 cargo ship will head to the ISS on Nov. 16, he said.

Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev, U.S. astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor and German astronaut Alexander Gerst are now working on the ISS.

The launch of the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft to the ISS failed on Oct. 11 due to a carrier rocket malfunction. Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and U.S. astronaut Nick Hague were onboard and made a safe emergency landing in Kazakhstan.

An investigation commission concluded that the accident was caused by irregular work of a sensor, which was supposed to signal the safe separation of the first and second stages of the carrier rocket, Krikalyov said.

As a result, one component of the first stage failed to move to a safe distance and hit the fuel tank of the second stage, which led to the rupture of the tank and the destruction of the second stage, he said.

Russia's Soyuz spacecraft is currently the only vehicle for spaceflights between the ISS and the Earth, and the ISS has enough supplies of food, water and life-supporting materials until next summer.

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