The planned March 30, 2012, launch of Russia's Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft with three new crew members for the International Space Station will be delayed to mid-April or the first half of May, the Interfax news service reported Friday citing an unnamed industry source.
"The descent vehicle's shell broke during air tightness testing. This descent capsule can no longer be used in a manned flight. The remaining time is not enough to prepare the descent capsule built for the next Soyuz," the source said.
[b]Soyuz TMA-04M crew insignia[/b] Credit: Roscosmos/NASA
NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and Roscosmos cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin are scheduled to fly on Soyuz TMA-04M to replace Expedition 30 crewmates Anton Shkaplerov, Anatoli Ivanishin and Dan Burbank, who arrived at the station on Soyuz TMA-22 in November.
Shkaplerov, Ivanishin and Burbank were scheduled to return to Earth on March 16 but as their own launch was delayed, their Soyuz has at least several weeks of margin before exceeding its on-orbit certified use.