The Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft approaches the International Space Station for docking under the manual control of Commander Gennady Padalka after a sensor monitoring the engines apparently malfunctioned in this image from NASA TV March 28, 2009.
Astronauts on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft were forced to manually dock with the International Space Station (ISS) after an engine failure knocked out the automatic docking system.
The shuttle is carrying U.S. billionaire and Microsoft developer Charles Simonyi, who may become one of the last civilians to be taken to the ISS as the financial crisis hampers efforts to expand the space fleet, Vitaly Lopota, head of space corporation Energiya, told a briefing.
Concerns have been raised about the safety of the Soyuz TMA spacecrafts before because some of the most recent re-entries have not gone smoothly. There were so-called “ballistic” landings where the entry into the atmosphere was steeper than usual, exposing the crews to intense gravitational force.
CREDIT CRUNCH HITS OUTER SPACE
Hungarian-born Simonyi, 60, made his fortune developing software at Microsoft and has now made history as the first space tourist to make the journey twice.
But as Russia increases the size of the crews it sends to the ISS, there will be no more room for space tourists, even though they pay tens of millions of dollars for the privilege of joining a mission.
Russia has borne the brunt of sending crews and cargo to the multinational ISS since the U.S. Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry in 2003, killing its crew of seven.