Russian Soyuz spacecraft gets delayed due to malfunctions

A veteran Russian space station commander, a rookie cosmonaut and a NASA shuttle flier rocketed smoothly into space aboard a Russian Soyuz ferry craft Tuesday, but the crew ran into problems executing a required rendezvous rocket firing, delaying docking with the International Space Station until Thursday at the earliest. Soyuz TMA-12M commander Alexander Skvortsov, flight engineer Oleg Artemyev and NASA astronaut Steven Swanson lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:17 p.m. EDT.

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft suffered an apparent malfunction in orbit late on March 25, forcing its three-man crew to circle the Earth two extra days before reaching the International Space Station as planned, NASA officials say. The Soyuz TMA-12M space capsule launched into space March 25 carrying an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts on what was expected to be a standard six-hour trip to the International Space Station. But a malfunction on the Soyuz spacecraft prevented a critical engine burn to keep the capsule on course for its planned orbital arrival on the night of March 25. Riding aboard the Soyuz are NASA astronaut Steve Swanson and cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev. The U.S.-Russian crew will now arrive at the station on the evening of March 27, NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said in an update.

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