WASHINGTON — Although NASA is concerned about last weekend’s rough, off-target landing of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying three astronauts, an agency official expressed confidence on Tuesday that the Russians would solve the problem.
The American space shuttle is to be retired in 2010, and its replacement vehicle that can carry humans into space is not scheduled to begin flights until 2015. Until the Orion spaceship and the Ares 1 rocket that propels it are ready, the United States will have to rely on Soyuz capsules to take its astronauts to and from the space station after 2010.
Dr. John M. Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, said the Soyuz would be critical after the shuttle is retired. “Everyone has to use the Soyuz,” he said. “It’s a global problem, not just a Russian or U.S. problem.”