MOSCOW — Russian news agencies say the country’s space agency is delaying both the return of astronauts from the International Space Station and the launch of the next mission to the orbiting laboratory.

The announcements came after last week’s failure of the launch of an unmanned supply ship to the space station. The Soyuz rocket sending it into space failed after launch and crashed and exploded in Siberia.

The news agencies RIA Novosti, ITAR-Tass and Interfax on Monday quoted the head of Roscosmos’s manned space operations, Alexei Krasnov, as saying the return of three astronauts was being put off from Sept. 8 to about the Sept. 16. He also said the next launch to the space station, scheduled for Sept. 22, would be delayed until the end of October or early November.

Roscosmos spokesman Igor Zatulin said he could not immediately confirm the reports.

Since the end of the U.S. space shuttle program, Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft have been the only vehicle to get crew to or from the space station.

There are six crew members aboard the space station. American Ronald Garan Jr. and Russians Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev, who have been in orbit since April, were to return to Earth on Sept. 8.

As for supplies, the space station is well stocked and could go until next summer.

The comments reported by the Russian agencies did not specify why the return mission was being put off.

But they quoted Krasnov as saying the next launch would be delayed until one or two unmanned firings could be conducted of rockets of the type used to launch the Soyuz space capsule.

NASA, meanwhile, said astronauts may need to take the unprecedented step of temporarily abandoning the International Space Station if officials are unable to pinpoint the cause of the problem with the Soyuz rocket.

The unsettling predicament comes just weeks after NASA’s final space shuttle flight.