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3 cosmonauts were injured in recent launch mishap

Three cosmonauts, one of them a woman, were injured when their launch rocket exploded while blasting off for a flight to the Salyut 7 space station last month, sources close to the Soviet space program said Tuesday.

This was the first Soviet word on the Sept. 27 incident at the Baikonur cosmodrome in central Asia. US intelligence sources reported the accident earlier this month, but it has so far gone unmentioned in the Soviet news media. The cosmonauts were injured by the acceleration force from an ejector rocket that blasted their capsule to safety from atop the giant launch vehicle when its fuel tanks exploded shortly after ignition, the sources said.

According to US intelligence, the three cosmonauts were due to relieve the two already in the space station, and the accident meant there was now concern over their return to Earth. Western space experts in Moscow said the accident was a setback but would not immediately jeopardize the orbiting crew.

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