A manned Soyuz rocket suffered a partial loss of pressure as it returned to Earth earlier this year, Russia’s space agency said Wednesday, in the latest glitch to hit the country’s space industry.
The incident during a voyage back from the International Space Station in April did not put the crew’s life in danger, the Roscosmos space agency said in a statement.
Cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko were in the spacecraft with NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, according to a NASA report at the time.
The problem came to light during a meeting of NASA’s ISS Advisory Committee this week and was reported by the industry journal Space News.
But Space News said the loss of pressure was “one of a series of events that have raised questions about the reliability of Russian vehicles supporting the ISS.”
Most of those incidents have involved unmanned spacecraft, though in 2015 a solar array — a type of power supply that captures energy from the sun — failed to deploy on time during a manned Soyuz docking.
In December last year, an unmanned Progress ship carrying supplies lost contact with Earth minutes after blastoff and burned up in the atmosphere over Siberia.
A commission appointed to investigate the malfunction concluded it was caused by the break-up of the Soyuz third stage rocket engine, either due to “foreign materials” getting inside or an assembly fault.
In April 2015, a failed Progress launch was also blamed on a problem with the Soyuz rocket, a space workhorse dating back to the Cold War-era.
Russia, which is currently the only country executing manned space flights to the ISS, put all space travel on hold for nearly three months.
A group of astronauts had to spend an extra month on the station.
In June this year one man died and another was hospitalized after they were caught in a fire on the steppes of Kazakhstan triggered by falling debris from a Russian space launch at the Baikonur cosmodrome.
Corruption scandals have also plagued the new Vostochny spaceport in Russia’s Far East.
Source: News agencies