An expected engine burn on board the Soyuz capsule taking three astronauts to ISS did not take place as scheduled, forcing at minimum a two day delay in the rendezvous and docking.


Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.


He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.
 

An expected engine burn on board the Soyuz capsule taking three astronauts to ISS did not take place as scheduled, forcing at minimum a two day delay in the rendezvous and docking.

[NASA spokesman Rob] Navias said the engine burn was aborted due to a problem with the Soyuz’s attitude control system, but further details were not immediately available. “Right now we don’t understand exactly what happened,” a mission manager at Russian Mission Control told the Soyuz crew late Thursday. Ground controllers planned to download data from the Soyuz and determine whether the glitch was due to a hardware or software problem. [emphasis mine]

Though the astronauts are not in any immediate danger, this is very worrisome. Indications from various other news stories suggest the problem was software related, which in a sense is a good thing. They would still have the option to manually fire their engines to do a manual rendezvous and docking. However, if it isn’t a software issue, and the vagueness of the reports so far makes me wonder about this, they might instead be stranded. Let us hope not.

Update: This report gives a little more information. It appears the capsule itself was not in the right orientation at burn time, and the computer software, sensing this, canceled the burn. If so, the problem might be software (incorrectly gauging the position of the spacecraft) or mechanical (something failing so that the capsule is not oriented correctly). Engineers need to find out which.

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2 comments

  • wodun

    Scary and two days in one of those must be unpleasant.

  • geoffc

    Soyuz was designed for multi-week long missions. The descent capsule is cramped and tiny. The Orbital module on top has more room, and just having two rooms helps. Someone at the controls, and two others in the Orbital module can make things much more bearable.

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