Undocking Problems Delays Soyuz, Station Crew Return to Earth


Two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut were forced to call off their scheduled departure from the International Space Station because of a failure of the undocking system. Hooks on the space station’s Poisk module docking interface failed to release for the scheduled departure at 9:35 p.m. EDT Thursday, sending astronaut Tracy Caldwell-Dyson and Russia’s Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko back inside the ISS from the Soyuz, where they were strapped in, ready to return to Earth. NASA and the Russian Space Agency are hoping to try again, with the hatch closing at 6:45 pm EDT on Friday; undocking at 10:02 pm and landing in Kazakhstan at 1:22 am.

“The preliminary analysis, according to the technical commission, showed that a false signal appeared in the onboard computer system about the lack of a hermetic junction after closing the hatch on the station,” said Roscosmos head Anatoly Perminov.

This type of undocking problem has never happened before and comes three months after a Russian Progress resupply vehicle had problems docking to the ISS when a transmitter for the manual rendezvous system accidently activated, overriding the usually reliable automated system.

In trouble shooting the problem, Expedition 25 flight engineer Fyodor Yurchikhin on board the station removed a cover from the docking mechanism and found a small gear floating away. But the station crew couldn’t confirm the object came from the docking system or had anything to do with the failure.

One Reply to “Undocking Problems Delays Soyuz, Station Crew Return to Earth”

  1. I ‘tuned in’ to NASA TV’s web cast yesterday to listen/watch the departure and heard about this problem… Maybe it has to do with the translation from Russian to English(?) but the Russian side sounded a little less than ‘professional’ in their handling of this anomaly. Approx. translation: “Okay, did you push the button?” “Yes I pushed the button” “Are you sure you pushed the button?” “Yes, I’m sure I pushed the button.” “Why don’t you push the button again? ” “Okay, I’ll push the button again.” “Did you push the button again?” “Yes, I pushed the button again.” “Why don’t you push the button one more time…” etc…. I found that interaction a little disconcerting… that coupled with the occasional breakup/interference in the com system.

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