Last year Russia suffered from the lose of a Progress vehicle that resulted in several delays to manned launches and the possibility of having to de-man the Space Station which has been constantly occupied since November 2000. Thankfully they were able to resolve the problems and the station returned to a full crew before the end of the year. unfortunately that wasn’t the end of the problems as this year during vehicle certification one of the Soyuz vehicles used for manned launches was damaged beyond repair and again manned missions have been delayed. The delay this time is not as serious as another vehicle was almost complete.
Too add to this ESA announced today that the next Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) has been delayed to allow more time to ensure the mission will succeed. At the present time they haven’t announced a new launch date but will have to ensure it doesn’t conflict with the other launches to the station.
With the US still reliant on Russia, Japan and ESA to launch cargo and crew to the station these delays show just how important it is that US companies quickly complete there work to bring US launch capabilities online. SpaceX are the closes to achieving this with a success Wet Dress Rehearsal yesterday for there COTS demo launch scheduled for April 20th.
Orbital are moving forward but announced that they are having problems completing there launch pad and will have to delay first launch of Antares.