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US-Russia Soyuz 'nauts STUCK IN SPACE after ISS dock fail

Darn it... We missed the 24-second engine thruster flare

Progress 44 taking off, launched by a Soyuz rocket

The three cosmonauts on board the Soyuz spacecraft are stuck in the space slow lane after a delay to their planned six-hour trip to the International Space Station.

They will now arrive at the ISS almost two days later than expected after a critical 24-second engine thruster burn that would have kept the team on course failed late on Tuesday night.

The journey was expected to take just six hours, but now the craft is in orbit around the Earth and will dock on Thursday evening.

As well as cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev, the American astronaut Steve Swanson is on board.

"The crew is fine, but the ground teams are taking a look at what exactly happened aboard the Soyuz and what caused that [engine] burn to be skipped," said Josh Byerly, NASA spokesman.

It is unclear whether the problem was caused by a mechanical failure, a software issue or just a simple mistake.

The crew are inside a capsule on top of the Soyuz rocket, which blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

"They have supplies to keep them in orbit for many, many days," Byerly added.

The Soyuz spacecraft are currently the only vehicles capable of transporting people up to the ISS, after the US retired its fleet of shuttles.

After docking with the ISS, the three-man crew will spend six months up in space. ®

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