STAR CITY: Three astronauts set to travel to the International Space Station this month said Wednesday they had confidence in Russia’s space program, despite a delay to their trip caused by the failed launch of a cargo craft.
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, who will be making his first space voyage, admitted he and his colleagues were “disappointed” their launch had to be delayed from its planned date in May, but said the crew had faith in the Russian spacecraft.
Russia was forced to postpone all space travel while it investigated the failure of an unmanned spaceship taking cargo to the ISS in late April after it lost communications with Earth and burned up in the atmosphere.
“Of course we are confident in the engineers, the professionalism of the Russian space program, to identify the problems and to ensure that that problem does not exist with our spaceship,” Lindgren, an American, told reporters ahead of the astronauts’ departure scheduled for July 23.
The glitch, which Russia has blamed on a design fault occurring with a specific type of carrier rocket, also forced a group of astronauts to spend an extra month aboard the ISS.
“The time that we had during the delay has given us additional time for some refresher training, to spend time with our families and to rest,” Lindgren said.
“And I think that we are ready to fly whenever the spacecraft is ready to take us to space.”
Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui, who like Lindgren is making his maiden space voyage, also stressed that the delay had given them more time to prepare for the mission.
“Right now we are very, very ready,” he said with a smile. “I know that the Soyuz is a very reliable, safe ship,” he said in Russian.
“I believe that our launch will be the safest launch ever.”
The crew’s Russian commander Oleg Kononenko was equally sanguine.
“I think we trust the spacecraft we will fly in,” he said, while conceding that everything might not go as planned.
“Machinery is machinery. Unexpected things can happen.”
Kononenko said that none of the men were afraid, however.
“We aren’t feeling some kind of visceral fear. There isn’t any fear or worries.”