Reports: Russia Delays Launch of Next Space Station Crew

LV Soyuz Rollout, January 24, 2012
At Baikonur launch site the preparations continue for the launch of Progress M-14M cargo vehicle under the International Space Station program, Jan. 24, 2012. (Image credit: S.P. Korolev RSC "Energia")

The next launch of a new crew for the International Space Station will be delayed by more than a month due to problems that were discovered with the Russian-built spacecraft, the head of Russia's Federal Space Agency confirmed today (Jan. 31).

The Soyuz TMA-04M was scheduled to launch to the space station on March 29, but issues with the spacecraft's descent vehicle were uncovered during tests last week. But that flight will now be pushed back by about 45 days, according to Russian news reports. 

"Now, the management of Energia corporation is drafting a new plan, under which the launch will be delayed for a month, [until] late April," Vladimir Popovkin, chief of the Russian Federal Space Agency, told the Russian ITAR-TASS news service.

According to Popovkin, the delay is in response to problems with the Soyuz TMA-04M re-entry capsule, which failed a test to ensure that it was hermetically sealed.

A new targeted launch date will be set after a teleconference with NASA on Thursday (Feb. 2), reported Ria Novosti.

"We're sorting it out, we'll be through later this week," Popovkin said.

The Soyuz spacecraft  is slated to launch NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin to the space station to replace an outgoing crew.

The space station is currently home to six astronauts; three Russians, two Americans and one Dutch spaceflyer. Commander Dan Burbank, of NASA, and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin are scheduled to return to Earth on March 16.

"There is plenty of margin for the current space station crew to stay onboard longer, if necessary, and plenty of margin in the manifest for upcoming launches," Clem told last week. partner contributed to this report. Follow for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcomand on Facebook.

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Robert Z. Pearlman Editor, Contributor

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.