Russia delays space crew's return to Earth

Russia's space agency on Friday announced that the return to Earth of three astronauts currently on the International Space Station will be delayed by nearly two weeks in June.

"The landing of the... Soyuz TMA-19M is scheduled for June 18, 2016," the Roscosmos said in a statement, after it was initially planned for June 5.

The of Russian Yury Malenchenko, American Tim Kopra and Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to fly to the ISS, have been at the space station since December 15.

Roscosmos also announced a schedule change for the next manned Soyuz launch to the ISS, saying it would now take place on June 24 instead of June 21.

It will take Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia, Kate Rubins of the United States and Takuya Onishi of Japan into space.

The next flight will be the first for the Soyuz MS spacecraft, an upgraded version of the Soyuz TMA-M model.

Roscosmos said the changes were made to "increase the effectiveness of cosmonauts' work," without elaborating.

© 2016 AFP

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