Russia has grounded its Soyuz rockets a day after a cargo ship carrying tons of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) crashed shortly after blast off.
Russian officials said the launches of Soyuz carrier rockets would be halted until the reasons for the accident become clear.
Search teams today continue to look for pieces of the cargo ship, which exploded some five minutes after it launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The explosion occurred after a problem appeared to develop in the propulsion system.
Fragments of the craft crashed into Russia’s remote Siberian region of Altai, on the border with Mongolia and China. No injuries to people on the ground were reported.
The ship was carrying nearly three tons of cargo — mainly fuel, oxygen, food and water — for the six Russian, American and Japanese crew members currently aboard the space station. Officials said the crew members still have plentiful supplies of food and water on board.
The rocket failure comes just one month after NASA carried out its final space shuttle flight. Russian Soyuz craft are now the only way to deliver new crew members to the space station.
But Michael Suffredini, space station program manager for the U.S. space agency NASA, said the failure could affect the planned September 22 launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket to carry a new crew to the space station.
“Obviously, this has implications,” Suffredini said. “Our Russian colleagues will begin the process of forming a commission, which I’m sure they’ve already done, and we’ll immediately begin to assess the data that’s available to try to determine root cause [of the failure].”
The rocket failed just one month after NASA carried out its final space shuttle flight. Russian Soyuz craft are now the only way to deliver new crew members to the space station.
compiled from agency reports