Russia proposes Feb. 24 launch of relief ship after space station leak

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(Reuters) - Russia's space agency on Saturday proposed the launch of a ship on Feb. 24 to bring two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut back from the International Space Station (ISS), news agencies reported.

Investigations into a pressure loss in the Progress MS-21 space cargo ship delayed the launch of the Soyuz MS-23 ship to bring back Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitry Petelin and Frank Rubio, who had previously been due to return to Earth on Feb. 20.

Russian news agencies quoted Roscosmos as saying a decision had been made to bring the Progress MS-21 cargo ship out of orbit on Sunday, paving the way for the Soyuz launch to follow.

Roscosmos proposed Feb. 24 as the new launch date of the Soyuz from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Roscosmos has said the damaged Progress module was sealed off from the rest of the station and there continued to be no threat to the safety of the seven crew on board - three Americans, three Russians and one Japanese.

Despite tense relations due to the conflict in Ukraine, Russia and the United States still collaborate closely on the ISS.

The Soyuz craft are used to ferry crew to and from the ISS, while the Progress vessels deliver equipment and supplies.

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Jason Neely and Helen Popper)