Flights to ISS may resume soon
NASA is now fully dependent on Russia to transport astronauts and other cargo material to the ISS as Russia’s Soyuz rockets carriers are the only rockets capable of traveling to the orbit of ISS.
According to U.S. government officials, Soyuz fight is set to resume in mid-October. The schedule of the flight is not yet announced, but it is expected to come out soon as NASA is not looking to leave its $100 billion space station unmanned temporarily.
Why Soyuz missions were suspended
In August, a Soyuz rocket carrying cargo goods to the ISS could not reach the orbit and fell back to the Earth as a third-stage motor of the Soyuz rocket broke down. After the incident, Russia suspended further missions while they investigated the causes of the incidents. However after the investigation, they found that the malfunction was a lone manufacturing defect.
After the incident, Russian and U.S. governments decided to test the reliability of Soyuz rockets before sending any manned mission to ISS. To demonstrate the reliability of the Soyuz rockets, both countries have planned to send two unmanned cargo missions to ISS.
Plans may not come to fruition
But the plans are not certain. NASA chief Charles Bolden recently wrote in an article: “We don't feel that is something we're going to have to do.” That means NASA may now back away from their plan of sending two unmanned cargo missions to ISS.
If the two countries are not able to send astronauts to ISS, they will have to leave ISS unmanned as the final astronaut on board the ISS will be returning in November.
According to experts, leaving ISS unmanned can lead to serious problems. The researches that are conducted on ISS require human involvement, and with an unmanned station, there could be malfunctioning. NASA has not left ISS unmanned for eleven years.
Soyuz most reliable transportation medium
Russian rocket Soyuz is the most reliable medium for a space mission. Soyuz rockets are more frequently used to commute to ISS as compared to the shuttles used by NASA earlier. Before August incident, Soyuz rockets have done 100 successful launches in a row, going back many years.