SpacePolicyOnline.com reports that a recent test of the next Soyuz spacecraft damaged it "beyond repair," which may delay the next launch.
The spacecraft that carries crew members is also named Soyuz, and on Friday Russia announced that the Soyuz spacecraft assigned for the next crew launch, expected on March 30, failed a test. Anatoly Zak at RussianSpaceWeb.com reports today that Russian industry sources and the website Novosti Kosmonavtiki (Space News) are indicating that during testing the spacecraft was pressurized "up to 3 atmospheres, instead of the nominal 1.3-1.5 atmospheres....The bad quality of materials in the spacecraft...had also been suspected. Another report surfaced on January 29, 2012 ... that a welding line on the descent module had broken as a result of the internal pressure" and the "descent module was damaged beyond repair." Zak estimates that the next launch might be delayed until the end of April at the earliest if a decision is made to use a replacement descent module.