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MOSCOW, June 9. /TASS/. The launch of the Soyuz TMA-17M manned spacecraft with the crew of the next expedition to the International Space Station (ISS) is scheduled for July 23-25 from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos told TASS Tuesday.
"The exact date of the launch will be determined later in connection with adjustment of the ISS orbit that took place June 8," the agency said.
Earlier there were plans to launch the Soyuz toward the ISS on May 26, but the launch was delayed due to an accident involving a Progress cargo spacecraft. Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Japan’s Kimiya Yui and American Kjell Lindgren are to fly to the station.
Roscosmos said the Soyuz TMA-18M, the seat in which was given up by British singer Sarah Brightman, is to blast off September 1. This year’s final manned launch will be made December 15: the Soyuz TMA-19M will head toward the station.
The Progress M-27M cargo spacecraft was launched on April 28 from the Baikonur space center on a Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket. The rocket took the spacecraft to a higher orbit than required to dock with the ISS. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get control of the spacecraft, experts gave up the idea. The Progress was taking food, oxygen and other cargos to the ISS crew. It burned in dense atmosphere May 8.
Roscosmos concluded that the cause of the accident was "abnormal separation" of the Soyuz third stage and the Progress due to decompression of the rocket’s fuel tanks, caused by an unaccounted design property.