The first manned mission to the International Space Station since a Russian rocket failed to launch earlier this month may take off on December 3, space agency Roscosmos said on Wednesday.
"In order to avoid shifting the ISS to an unmanned mode, the industry is exerting considerable efforts to make the launch possible on December 3," Sergei Krikalyov, the executive director of the manned spaceflight program at Russia's Roskosmos space agency, said on October 31.
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“The industry is making significant efforts to move the launch to December 3 so that the station does not switch to autopilot mode, and landing is expected around Dec. 20,” he said.
A Russian cosmonaut Aleksei Ovchinin and U.S. astronaut Nick Hague were forced to abort their mission on October 11 and perform an emergency landing after a launch accident that Roscomos said was caused by a faulty sensor. The accident was the first serious launch problem experienced by a manned Soyuz space mission since 1983, when a crew narrowly escaped before a launch pad explosion.
Hague and Ovchinin were due to spend six months on the ISS.
The current crew working aboard the ISS since June 6 consists of Sergei Prokopyev of Russia, Serena Maria Aunon-Chancellor of the United States, and Alexander Gerst of Germany.
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The next crew comprising Oleg Kononenko of Russia, Anne Charlotte McClain of the United States, and David Saint-Jacques of Canada was initially scheduled to be sent to the ISS in late December, but that launch was rescheduled after the October 11 accident.
(With agency inputs)
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