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American Astronaut's Ride to Space Station in Jeopardy


Russia has postponed the Friday launch of a Soyuz rocket carrying a navigation satellite for Glonass after a similar rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station crashed yesterday after failing to enter orbit. The ride American astronauts were supposed to hitch next month to the ISS may not happen.

When NASA ended its space program last month, the only way for American astronauts to get to space was on Russian Soyuz rockets. That prospect is now looking dismal. The Huntsville Times reported senators as saying Congress was right to push NASA to launch one last space shuttle, which it took last month:

"In light of the failure of the Russian Progress vehicle," U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said in a statement, "it is fortunate the Congress authorized the final flight of the space shuttle to provide supplies to ensure long term viability of the (space station)."

NASA's final flight in July brought backup fuel to the station in case an emergency rescue were required, in addition to supplies to last astronauts up there several months.

According to the New York Times, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin mandated changes at the Russian space agency, which will affect review of equipment purchased from manufacturers and pre-launch procedures.

The rocket carrying 3 tons of supplies to the space station crashed into Siberian woods August 24 after it didn't pick up enough speed to reach orbit.

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