The discovery has prompted officials to ask three astronauts on board the International Space Station who were set to return home this week to delay their trip by one month while the problem is assessed.
Why 3 Astronauts Are Stuck In Space For Another Month.
The flight plan reshuffling comes after Russian space officials conducted an initial investigation into the loss of control of the unmanned Progress 59 cargo ship on April 28th. The craft orbited in low-earth orbit for more than a week before plunging into the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrating.
The delays should pose little problem for the stranded astronauts, said a NASA spokeswoman, Stephanie Schierholz. “We keep plenty of supplies on the space station so we can have the flexibility to do something like this,” she said in an interview.
The next Russian cargo launch, Progress 60, will be moved from August to early July, she said, and a SpaceX resupply mission is planned for June 19. Both will deliver several tons of supplies and food to the space station.
The launch failure will also push back the trip to space for their successors, who are now expected to arrive at the International Space Station in late July.
The Progress spacecraft launched on April 28 with 6,000 pounds of supplies for the astronauts, however after takeoff it went into an uncontrolled spin around Earth. The spacecraft burned up during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere on May 8 over the Pacific Ocean, officials said.
The next Russian cargo delivery is set for July with the launch of the Progress 60 vehicle. NASAsaid the space station has enough supplies to support astronauts through fall of this year.
The next cargo resupply mission will be run by SpaceX and is set for no earlier than June 19, NASA said.