Houston Matters

Space Expert Discusses How Failed Launch Could Impact International Space Station

Ars Technica’s Eric Berger explains the space station’s current crew was scheduled to return to Earth in December

An expert on space exploration told Houston Matters Thursday that, after the failed space launch of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, one of the main questions is whether the incident will impact the work at the International Space Station (ISS).

Eric Berger, senior space editor at Ars Technica, said that, to survive in the long term, the ISS needs people on board. Currently, there is an American astronaut, a German astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut on the space station and they were due to come back in mid-December “and now the question,” Berger noted, “is will there be a crew up there in time to replace them.”

Eric Berger

The expert added that NASA seems to be relying on Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, to solve the problem with the Soyuz spacecraft “fairly quickly,” but it’s possible that the time the current crew will spend at the ISS could be extended for a few weeks.

Berger underscored the importance of the ISS by saying that it is “what the astronauts fly to, it’s the reason we have a human space flight, you know, core here in Houston today and, so, the future of that program is very important to this region.”

The expert also pointed out that NASA is entirely relying on the Soyuz spacecraft “until the commercial crew partners, that’s Space X and Boeing, come online and hopefully that happens about a year from now.”

Berger explained that the Russian Space Agency will create an independent commission to study the failed launch. “They’ll try to find pieces of the rocket, which should have fallen back to Earth and then they’ll look at the telemetry data from the space flight, talk to the astronaut and cosmonaut that were on board, and try to ascertain exactly what happened and to determine it will be to address that problem going forward.”

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