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International Space Station May Be Left Unmanned In November

The International Space Station may have to be left unmanned in November, due to the loss of the supply ship Progress when a booster rocket malfunctioned, the same type that are used for launching astronauts' space craft.

The International Space Station may have to be left unmanned in November, due to the loss of the supply ship Progress when a booster rocket malfunctioned, the same type that are used for launching astronauts' space craft.

On Monday National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, space station manager Mike Suffredini said that the International Space Station may need to be evacuated of its astronauts by mid November, and the station left unmanned for a period of time. The station could still be operated from Earth, although some of the experiments that are ongoing may have to be ended.

The possibility of the ISS being unmanned is a result of the Russian supply ship which blasted off for the ISS last week, but exploded before it left the Earth’s atmosphere. A booster rocket was identified as the problem, and since it is similar to the rockets which are used to launch astronauts to the ISS, there are obviously concerns about this.

The United States were planning to rely on the Russians’ Soyuz spacecraft to transport their astronauts to and from the station since the U.S. 30 year space shuttle program ended last month. Three astronauts were due to return to Earth on 8th September, but this has been delayed because of the loss of the supply ship Progress which means that the crew will spend an extra week in orbit, at least.

In late September a new crew were to have been sent to the ISS, but this launch has also been delayed.
Part of the concerns on returning astronauts to Earth after mid November is landing the space craft during unpredictable winter weather.

Meanwhile private companies are working to develop other space ships and rockets, but these are not expected to be functioning until at least 2015.

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Eric is an unashamed techno-geek (with an odd love of the outdoors) and one of the few people who can start a conversation in a roomful of similarly inclined techies and end up being the focal point for a crowd ... he also has the benefit of being able to speak and write in ways that are understandable to normal humans.

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