Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Soyuz: not a smooth trip

NASA officials admitted to some concern, but played down any threat to the safety of astronauts, after a Soyuz capsule with American, Russian, and South Korean occupants came down over 400 kilometers off target and subjected the occupants to a sustained load over over eight Gs. This is the second time a Soyuz had a similar problem after entering the atmosphere at the wrong attitude courtesy of a problem in separating the service module from the crew capsule. The comments of NASA associate administrator for space operations William H. Gerstenmaier at a news teleconference betray some ambiguity:
"I don't see this as a major problem, but it's clearly something that should not have occurred."
"We may have missed the probable cause" (after the first incident, blamed on a frayed wire)
"I have complete confidence in what the Russians are doing. They were very concerned about this. They treated this with the same diligence as we would in the United States."

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