Russia may delay manned space flight: report

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Russia may have to delay a planned rocket launch to the International Space Station that was timed to honour the 50th anniversary of the first human space flight, Interfax reported Monday.

The Souyuz craft bearing the name of pioneering Soviet cosmonaut Yury Gagarin had been due to take off from Russia's Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan on March 30.

But the manned flight may have to be delayed due to technical problems with the craft, Interfax quoted a Russian space industry official as saying.

"Today we will have a state committee meeting that will examine a new date for the manned flight," the news agency quoted its source as saying. "The cause is of a technical nature."

Soyuz rockets will provide the world's only link to the International Space Station after the three-decade old US shuttle programme formally closes after Endeavour and Atlantis take their final spaceflights in the coming months.

Russia's potential delay was reported just two weeks after a top government official accused the space agency of committing "childish" errors that included the loss of three satellites in December.

The ISS is orbiting 350 kilometres (220 miles) from Earth, with its first module launched by Russia in 1998.

© 2011 AFP

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