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Manned Soyuz launch canceled seconds before liftoff

The launch of a Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket, which was supposed to bring a Soyuz MS-25 manned spacecraft into orbit, has been aborted by an automatic safety system about 20 seconds before its scheduled liftoff on Thursday. The crew of three astronauts was reportedly declared safe.

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The Soyuz was scheduled to blast off at 16:21 local time (13:21 GMT) from the Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan ahead of a dock with the International Space Station’s Prichal module at 16:35 GMT.

On board were Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, Belarusian space flight participant Marina Vasilevskaya, and US astronaut Tracy Dyson.

The head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, Yuri Borisov, told reporters that the reason for the canceled launch was a voltage drop in chemical power source. The crew handled the emergency situation professionally, he stated.

It marks the first time in Russian manned space exploration that a rocket liftoff carrying a crewed mission has been scrubbed during the countdown, according to historian Alexander Zheleznyakov.

“I don’t remember such an incident that there was a cancellation in such a short time before the launch,” he told RIA Novosti, adding “There were cases when it was canceled a day before for various reasons.” At the same time, he pointed out that similar incidents have occurred worldwide with unmanned launches.

According to Roscosmos, the launch of Soyuz MS-25 has been rescheduled for Saturday, March 23, and will take place at 15:36 local time.

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