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Russia delays ISS astronauts' return after Progress failure

Image released April 14, 2015 by ESA/NASA shows the giant solar arrays on the International Space Station photographed on February 12, 2015 by Expedition 43 Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency (ESA). Image copyright ESA/Nasa
Image caption There are currently six astronauts on board the International Space Station

Russia has delayed the return of three astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS), following the failure of its supply spaceship.

The landing of three ISS crew members was originally planned for Thursday, but is now postponed until early June, space official Vladimir Solovyov says.

He adds that the mission to replace the trio has also been set back to July.

Last week, the out-of-control unmanned supply ship Progress M-27M burnt up as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere.

An initial investigation suggests that the cause of the disaster was a problem with the third stage of the Soyuz launch vehicle, Russian experts say.

'Enough supplies'

Mr Solovyov, the flight head of the Russian segment of the ISS, says the three astronauts have already been informed about the delay.

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Media captionNasa released footage showing the spaceship spinning

"They... have agreed to work on orbit for about another month", he is quoted as saying by Russia's Tass news agency.

Mr Solovyov adds that another Progress spaceship will be sent to the ISS after this, and - if everything goes according to plan - replacement astronauts will fly to the space station in July.

There are currently six people on board the ISS - three Russians, two Americans and an Italian national.

Last week, the Progress cargo ship burnt up over the Pacific, Russian officials said.

The spaceship was launched from Kazakhstan on 28 April, but control was lost soon afterwards.

It was carrying more than three tonnes of supplies - including water, fuel and oxygen - to the ISS.

But after a communications failure, it began spiralling out of control before crashing.

Even after the loss of Progress, the astronauts have enough supplies to keep them going until the next expected delivery, Russian officials say.

Russia said the loss was valued at 2.59bn roubles ($50.7m; £32.9m), according to Reuters.

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