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    HomeWorldRussia Will Launch New Capsule to Return Space Station Crew

    Russia Will Launch New Capsule to Return Space Station Crew

    Russia Will Launch New Capsule to Return Space Station Crew

    will send up a capsule next month to bring back three space station crew members whose original ride home was damaged, officials said Wednesday.

    The two Russians and one American will stay several extra months at the International Space Station as a result of the capsule switch, possibly pushing their mission to close to a year, and Russian space officials told reporters.

    Cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, and astronaut Frank Rubio were supposed to return in March in the same Soyuz capsule that took them up last September. But that capsule was hit by a tiny meteoroid on Dec. 14, creating a small hole in the exterior radiator and sending coolant spewing into space.

    Sergei Krikalev, head of human spaceflight for the Russian Space Agency, said barring an emergency at the space station, it would be too dangerous for the crew to use that capsule to return to Earth.

    Although Russian engineers believe the capsule could survive reentry and land safely, the cabin temperature could reach the low 40s Celsius (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) with high humidity because it couldn't shed heat generated by a computer and other electronics, noted Krikalev, a former cosmonaut.

    The new Soyuz capsule will be launched from Kazakhstan on Feb. 20, a month earlier than planned. No one will be on board; the capsule will fly in automatic mode, Russian Space Agency chief Yuri Borisov announced earlier in the day….

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