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Internal NASA Documents Give Clues to Scary Soyuz Return Flight

Engineers are attempting to reconstruct the 19 April Soyuz descent from the ISS

7 min read

7 May 2008—What should have been a routine return from the International Space Station (ISS) on 19 April 2008 quickly turned into a heart-stopping drama for ground controllers and the three astronauts aboard a Soyuz TMA-11. The craft had disappeared during the descent and was then found on a scorched steppe some 400 kilometers from where it was supposed to land. Now the incident is a technological puzzle to space engineers and a potential political challenge to the international partnership behind the ISS.

Although the technical investigation will take weeks to resolve, NASA and Russian engineers have come to several credible preliminary conclusions. And internal NASA documents, such as ”15S Ballistic Entry Outbrief” by George Kafka, chief of the Safety & Mission Assurance Directorate for the ISS program, reveal a plausible idea of what probably happened.

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Top Tech 2023: A Special Report

These two dozen technical projects should make significant advances in the coming year

2 min read
Top Tech 2023: A Special Report
Edmon DeHaro

Each January, the editors of IEEE Spectrum offer up some predictions about technical developments we expect to be in the news over the coming year. You’ll find a couple dozen of those described in the following special report. Of course, the number of things we could have written about is far higher, so we had to be selective in picking which projects to feature. And we’re not ashamed to admit, gee-whiz appeal often shaped our choices.

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