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Forum:Soviet - Russian Space
Topic:Soyuz TMA-08M: Viewing, comments, questions
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HeadshotDoes anyone know if the Soyuz has the fuel margin to effect rendezvous with the ISS in a single orbit?

Gemini XI and several Apollo lunar module ascent stages were able to accomplish this, but their "target" vehicles were in much lower orbits than the ISS.

Robert PearlmanAFP is reporting that the crew of TMA-08M "endured a hair-raising descent after their height sensors failed," according to commander Pavel Vinogradov.
"There were problems. For some reason after the undocking all our parameters disappeared. Essentially, after the undocking, we flew blind," he said at the Star City cosmonaut training centre outside Moscow, quoted by Russian news agencies.

He said that the only data the crew could receive about their approach to the earth -- crucial for knowing when to fire the engines to soften the landing -- came from the salvage team on the ground.

He said the rescue teams were able to radio to the crew that they were 300 metres (1,000 feet) and then 100 metres (330 feet) from the ground in the Soyuz capsule, which lands vertically with the help of a parachute after reentering the atmosphere.

"I managed to count eight seconds and we touched down very softly," he said, adding that aside from the usual G-forces and jolting "everyone felt normal".

Robert PearlmanNASA spokesman Rob Navias told SPACE.com "the crew was in no danger."
"What I can tell you is that the crew doesn't fly the Soyuz," Navias said. "They're passive. This thing about flying blind has to do with their situational awareness of altimeter data based on what appears to have been a sensor issue that prevented them from seeing data onboard."

Because the astronauts were unable to follow their altitude from readings in the cockpit, recovery crews on the ground kept them updated with information being relayed to them from Russian Mission Control.

"The bottom line is, the Soyuz performed as it was expected to," Navias said. "There were no issues with the vehicle performance, it was just the crew's insight into altimeter data that they can't do anything about anyway... It really was a minor issue."

Robert PearlmanFantastic new photo from NASA's Bill Ingalls:

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