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Soyuz space capsule launch faces delays: report

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Technical problems were likely to delay Russia's launch of the Soyuz capsule due to carry U.S. and Russian astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) this month, Interfax cited an industry source saying on Monday.

Any delay would increase concerns about Russia's reliability on rides to the ISS just before NASA mothballs its shuttle later this year, leaving it entirely dependent on the Russian Soyuz.

The launch, scheduled for March 30, "will most likely be postponed to a later date," the unnamed space industry source said, adding that a state commission would meet on Monday to consider a new launch date.

"The reasons for the delays are technical," the source was quoted as saying, without giving more details.

A spokesman for Russian space agency Roskosmos did not rule out a decision on the launch date being taken when the agency meets, but said the schedule remained unchanged as of Monday.

"Today the board of Roskosmos will meet... maybe it will make a final decision also about the Soyuz-TMA-21 start date," spokesman Alexander Vorobyov told Interfax.

NASA astronaut Ronald Garan and Russian cosmonauts Andrei Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyayev are set to fly on the Soyuz capsule to the ISS when it blasts off from Russia's Baikonur launchpad in the Kazakh steppe.

(Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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