Russia's space agency has postponed the launch of the next manned mission to the international space station by one week, to March 30, a spokesman said Monday according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. The launch, which had been scheduled for March 22, is to carry Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov, American Jeffery Williams and Brazilian Marcos Cesar Pontes.
The report cited Roskosmos spokesman Vyacheslav Davidenko as saying that the launch was postponed because problems were discovered with elements of the spacecraft's control system, and that parts would have to be replaced and fully tested.
The delay also means that the launch of an unmanned Progress supply ship, which had been planned for the first quarter of the year, would be put off until April 24, the report said.
Russia's Soyuz crew capsules and unmanned Progress cargo ships have been the international space station's lifeline since the U.S. space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003. The U.S. shuttle program was suspended for more than two years; the shuttle Discovery flew to the space station in July, but problems with its insulation raised doubts about when the next shuttle would go into space, reports the AP.