Russian Soyuz spacecraft begins mission to bring back crew stranded on ISS

Russian Soyuz spacecraft begins mission to bring back crew stranded on ISS

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A Russian Soyuz spacecraft exploded on Friday while on a mission to return a crew stranded aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to Earth because of a leak in the cooling system of its original return capsule, Russian news agencies reported.

The Tass news agency said the unmanned Soyuz MS-23 was launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan and placed in orbit. It was due to dock with the ISS at 0101 GMT on Saturday.

Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin and American astronaut Francisco Rubio were due to end their missions in March. They were left stranded in space two months ago after their Soyuz MS-22 capsule developed a leak in their cooling system.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos said this week the trio will now return to Earth aboard Soyuz MS-23 in September. The damaged MS-22 spacecraft is now scheduled to land without a crew in March.

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