26 Aug 2011

Soyuz rockets grounded by Russia

9:09 am on 26 August 2011

Russia has grounded its fleet of Soyuz rockets after an unmanned spacecraft carrying cargo for the International Space Station crashed shortly after its launch on Wednesday.

Investigators want to determine the cause before moving ahead with any further flights.

The BBC reports the halt could delay a manned launch from Kazakhstan currently scheduled for September.

On Wednesday, the federal space agency said the Progress M-12M cargo ship was not placed in the correct orbit by its rocket and fell back to Earth.

The first and second stages (sections) of the Soyuz-FG space rocket used for manned launches differ from those of the Soyuz-U which carries the Progress freighter, but the third stage is identical in both rockets.

The next manned flight to the International Space Station is scheduled for 22 September. A cargo vessel with new supplies is due to fly to the space station on 28 October.

In a statement on Thursday, Roscosmos said it was in contact with NASA about support for the ISS as well as future manned and cargo launches.

It also announced a full review of its rockets.