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Russian crash clouds space station operations

The recent Russian Suyoz crash puts the international space program in somewhat of a bind.  Though the International Space Station has enough equipment and supplies to go well into 2012.

The unpiloted Soyuz-U rocket, which fizzled out five minutes after blasting off from the Baikonur launch pad, closely resembles Russia’s Soyuz-FG model used to transport astronauts to the orbital station in the absence of a U.S. shuttle.

 According to MSNBC and Reuters, changing out ISS crew members will not take place on the planned schedule:

The next space station crew launch, which industry sources and foreign officials say will now be postponed from Sept. 22, was to be the first since the U.S. space agency ended its 30 year shuttle program in July.

This crash is another in a series of space craft failures.  A Russian commission will investigate the incident to determine the cause before another attempt at any rocket launches.
And in the U.S. there will be additional pressure on our commercial efforts to fly a cargo supply vessel as soon as possible.  The shuttle program is over; there will be no more of those launches.  Therefore, launching our own crew members into low earth orbit is somewhat further away.  Until then, we remain dependent on the Russians.

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