Soyuz MS-02 with possible new launch date

Russian Soyuz MS-02 manned spacecraft, with launch date planned for 23rd September 2016, suffers over one month of delay. It seems that International Space Station will remain with only three crew members for whole October.

It seems that repositioning of International Space Station performed with utilization of Progress MS-02 on 11th September was a bit previous. Lasting over ten minutes burn conducted at 01:45 GMT change orbit of ISS for 403.6 km x 420.4 km (with inclination of 51.66) to make possible docking of Soyuz with three members of Expedition 49: two Russian cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko along with one NASA astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough. Unfortunately due the unveiled technical problems with Soyuz MS-02, which appeared during encapsulation on atop of Soyuz-FG at Baikonur assembling facility, mission was halted with lack of any new launch date. At the beginning Roscosmos claimed, that new date will be announced as soon as special commission will evaluate problem (with September 20 mentioned as potential day of announcing new launch date), but still State Corporation is not able to give any more details on issue or point any possible launch date. According to TASS and RIA Novosti only information was given by NASA representative with the Russian Mission Control Centre in Korolev, Alexander Koptev. He said, that most possible date of launch of MS-02 is early November (with possible 1st November), what would probably leave less than two weeks to prepare planned for 15 November launch of Soyuz MS-03. Only information, still not directly from Roscosmos, was given by Vladimir Solntsev, the director general of RCC Energia, manufacturer of Soyuz MS-02. He told TASS on Wednesday, that reason for the problem was identified and problem will be fixed with using spare part. Solntsev stressed that part and service teams were already at Baikonur, what will make delay as short as possible. Still it was not confirmed if Soyuz MS-02 will launch in October, so probably most possible date is, mentioned by Alexander Koptev, early November.

On picture above: Soyuz MS-02 and payload fairing during horizontal assembling process.

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