Feature

Soyuz’s glitch

The week's news at a glance.

Baikonur, Kazakhstan

The first NASA astronauts to return to Earth in a Russian spacecraft had a wild ride this week when their Soyuz spacecraft suddenly switched itself to ballistic mode for the re-entry. The two Americans and their Russian crewmate were subjected to eight times the force of gravity for more than an hour. “When you come back from space, just one G makes you feel heavy,” said Commander Kenneth Bowersox. So at eight G’s, “it’s hard to breathe and your tongue sort of slips in your head and toward the back of your throat.” NASA experts said a software glitch probably caused the error. The Soyuz capsules are ferrying astronauts and supplies to and from the International Space Station while the U.S. shuttle fleet is grounded pending investigation into February’s Columbia disaster, which killed seven.

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