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Russian space official denies report of problem in Soyuz return
by Staff Writers
Moscow (UPI) Sep 13, 2013


Spacemen 'flew blind' from ISS after sensors failed
Moscow (AFP) Sept 13, 2013 - The three crew of the International Space Station (ISS) who returned to Earth this week endured a hair-raising descent after their height sensors failed, a Russian cosmonaut revealed on Friday.

Pavel Vinogradov said that he and the two other crew of the Soyuz capsule which touched down in Kazakhstan Wednesday had groped their way through the landing after they lost all data about their height from the ground.

"There were problems. For some reason after the undocking all our parameters disappeared. Essentially, after the undocking, we flew blind," he said at the Star City cosmonaut training centre outside Moscow, quoted by Russian news agencies.

He said that the only data the crew could receive about their approach to the earth -- crucial for knowing when to fire the engines to soften the landing -- came from the salvage team on the ground.

He said the rescue teams were able to radio to the crew that they were 300 metres (1,000 feet) and then 100 metres (330 feet) from the ground in the Soyuz capsule, which lands vertically with the help of a parachute after reentering the atmosphere.

"I managed to count eight seconds and we touched down very softly," he said, adding that aside from the usual G-forces and jolting "everyone felt normal".

Vinogradov, fellow Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy touched down on the Kazakh steppe on Wednesday morning, in a landing that at the time seemed hitch-free.

Russia is currently the only nation capable of transporting humans to the ISS in its Soyuz rocket and capsule system after the withdrawal of the US shuttle.

The head of Russia's space agency denied a Russian spacecraft returning from the International Space Station flew blind after sensors failed during descent.

One of the crew, cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov, had said the sensor failure meant the crew couldn't gather information about the module's altitude.

"After separation (of the landing and orbital modules) all our parameters we must control disappeared," Pavel Vinogradov told reporters in Moscow after returning there from the landing site in Kazakhstan Wednesday.

Vinogradov, Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy were aboard the returning Soyuz spacecraft.

However, the head of Russia's Federal Space Agency denied the cosmonaut's claim Friday, RIA Novosti reported.

"It wasn't a blind landing," Vladimir Popovkin said, explaining mission control simply switched off an information display in the landing module of the Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft.

The cosmonauts still had enough readings to complete the landing procedure without problems, he said.

"Two dates simply overlapped in a program, and we had to turn off the [information] display so that [the readings] would not be patchy on the screen," Popovkin said.

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Lockheed Martin Atlas V To Launch Morelos-3 ComSat
Denver CO (SPX) Sep 13, 2013
Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services (LMCLS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Lockheed Martin Corporation [NYSE: LMT], has been selected by the Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes, a government agency of Mexico, to provide commercial launch services using the Atlas V launch vehicle for Mexico's Morelos-3 communications satellite (also known as MEXSAT-2). The launch is scheduled to ... read more


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