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Current ISS Crew Could Return Back to Earth in December - Source

© Sputnik / Roscosmos / Go to the mediabankSpace walk by Russian Cosmonauts
Space walk by Russian Cosmonauts - Sputnik International
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The spacewalk for inspection of a tiny hole in the hull of the Soyuz spacecraft docked with the International Space Station has been tentatively scheduled for December, after the arrival of the next crew, a source in the Russian space industry told Sputnik on Friday.

"The spacewalk to inspect the hole in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft from the outside may take place in December, if everything goes according to plan, after the arrival of the next crew," the source said. The spacewalk was originally planned for November 15, but it was canceled due to the launch incident with the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft on Thursday.

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Meanwhile, the current crew on board the International Space Station may return to Earth in December, three people will maintain the station until April.

“The return of the current ISS crew is tentatively planned for December this year. After their return and until April, when the next expedition starts, there will be three crew members on the ISS — Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and NASA astronaut Anne McClain," the source said.

On Thursday, an accident occurred during the launch of a Soyuz-FG launch vehicle carrying the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft with two new ISS crew members on board. Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin NASA astronaut Nick Hague safely returned to Earth in a jettisoned escape capsule.

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According to a source in the space industry, Alexey Ovchinin will not be able to travel to the ISS until 2020.

"The crews are already formed. They are undergoing training and have certain tasks. The logistics related to the equipment and cargo depend on them. Alexey Ovchinin will be appointed to the nearest crew which has not been formed yet, meaning the flight will be no earlier than 2020," the source said.

The incident became the first failure of a manned space launch in modern Russian history. The crash is being investigated by a special commission of Russia's Roscosmos. All manned launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome have been suspended until the commission finds out the causes of the failure.

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A source in Russia's space industry told Sputnik on Friday that the launch of the next expedition to the ISS is tentatively scheduled for December 5-7.

"Two options are being considered: to mothball the station or to continue flights. As part of the second option, it is tentatively planned to launch the Soyuz MS-11 manned spacecraft with a crew consisting of Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and NASA astronaut Anne McClain between December 5 and December 7," the source said.

According to the source, the launch of a Progress space freighter is scheduled for November.

Meanwhile, the emergency rescue system of the Russian new Federation spacecraft will be constructed on the basis of a similar system of the Soyuz spacecraft but it will be more powerful, a source in the aerospace industry told Sputnik.

"The emergency rescue system for Federation is being developed by MDB Iskra, which carries out the serial manufacture of such systems for the Soyuz spacecraft. The new system will not differ from the time-tested system of Soyuz. But since Federation is twice or three times heavier, depending on its mission, the boom body will be lengthened and eight instead of four engine nozzles, arranged in two rows one above the other, will be used," the source said.

READ MORE: Situation Around Hole on Soyuz More Difficult Than Expected — Roscosmos Chief

Moreover, the more effective fuel would be used to increase engine power, the source added.

The work on the new rescue system was at the layout stage, the source pointed out, adding that the system would remain analog and would not include the use of computer equipment.

UAE Could Cancel Plans on Its Mission to ISS

The UAE Space Agency refuses to comment on any unofficial information related to the crash of Russia's Soyuz spacecraft, a source in the space industry told Sputnik on Friday.

"The UAE Space Agency does not comment on speculation. It would like to emphasize the strategic space cooperation between the UAE and Russia, especially in the area of Human Space Flight. The safe return of astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin is a testament to the high-level Russian space capabilities," the source said.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (Jaxa) new solid fuel rocket Epsilon at Jaxa's Uchinoura Space Center at Kimotsuki town in Kagoshima prefecture, Japan's southern island of Kyushu (File) - Sputnik International
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A source in the aerospace industry told Sputnik that the United Arab Emirates could cancel its plans to send its astronaut to the ISS.

"The UAE astronaut will not fly [to space] in April. They will be offered to send their astronaut to space at the end of the next year. But since the contract envisioned other time frames, this may not suit the UAE. This is subject to talks. If they refuse [to send their astronaut to space], the place in the crew at the end of the next year will be offered to partner astronauts within the ISS for the participation in a long-term mission," the source said.

The composition of the crew which will fly to the ISS the next spring also depended on the UAE decision, the source noted.

"If the UAE agrees to reschedule the flight, the April crew will include two Russian cosmonauts and one US astronaut," the source pointed out.

READ MORE: Roscosmos' Research Center's Staff Suspected of Leaking Data Abroad – Source

However, a source with the Emirati agency told Sputnik Friday that the UAE space agency will continue working with Russia. "We are committed to our joint work with the Human Space Flight partners and we are confident with the safety measures adopted by Roscosmos," the source stressed.

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