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NASA, International Space Agencies May Leave Station Empty

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Astronauts on the International Space Station may have to leave it without a crew to take their place, NASA officials said Monday.

Reuters reports Russian rockets failed to reach orbit following launch Wednesday, forcing the Russian space agency to suspend all space launches pending an investigation.

A three-man crew, including NASA astronaut Ronald Garan, was scheduled to return Sept. 8. Russian news agencies report the three will stay at least week later to buy some time.

The AP reports three other astronauts, including NASA astronaut Mike Fossum, are due to leave by mid-November.

However, no astronauts can be launched before the scheduled departure date until officials find out what went wrong with the Soyuz rockets.

NASA has relied on Soyuz capsules to send astronauts to the space station since the end of the Space Shuttle program.

“We have plenty of options,” said Mike Suffredini, NASA’s space station program manager. “We’ll focus on crew safety as we always do.”

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