Space Agency Says Glitch Cause Found

The Federal Space Agency said Wednesday that it had identified the technical glitch that caused a Soyuz space capsule to re-enter Earth's atmosphere at an unusually steep angle last month, subjecting crew members to severe G-forces and landing hundreds of kilometers off target.

The so-called "ballistic trajectory" resulted when the service module of the Soyuz TMA-11 capsule took too long to detach, agency official Alexei Krasnov said, RIA-Novosti reported.

Krasnov stressed that the ballistic trajectory was within the technical parameters of the Soyuz. "Yes, it is tense and the stresses are unpleasant for the crew, but it is still an acceptable variation of the re-entry procedure," he said.

The steeper-than-usual descent on April 21 subjected the capsule's three-person crew to severe gravitational forces and caused the Soyuz to land 420 kilometers off target.