Russian Federation blames rocket failure on mistake during assembly

Russia's Mission to ISS May Launch on December 3 Report
Russian official says Soyuz rocket failure caused by an errant sensor
Author

02 November, 2018

Roscosmos has said a faulty sensor caused the failure and believes Soyuz rockets will resume launching in December (when the current three-person space station crew must return to Earth).

They warned that two other Soyuz rockets could be defective, and said additional checks have been introduced. Its next humans-onboard flight will take place on December 3rd, when Soyuz MS-11 will take three people to the International Space Station.

NASA's Nick Hague, flying for the first time, and Aleksey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, were both unharmed.

Executive director of Russia's Roscosmos space agency Sergei Krikalyov said Wednesday that the root of the problem was a sensor that indicated the separation of the first two stages of the Soyuz rocket.

The findings of an official investigation into the incident were presented at a press conference on Thursday.

The mission crew that is now working aboard the ISS might return to Earth on December 20, Krikalyov said.

What happened during the flight?

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Last week, Russian Federation successfully launched a Soyuz rocket for the first time since the failure. As we now know, the fourth strap-on block didn't separate properly and actually smacked its top against the central core rocket stage of the Soyuz.

Live video of the astronauts inside showed them shaking violently with vibrations caused by the malfunction. This damage caused the rocket's built-in safety features to initiate an immediate abort before anyone even had a chance to think about it, and the two passengers soon found themselves flying back towards Earth in the crew capsule.

The two crew members were then recovered by emergency workers near the Kazakh city of Dzhezkazgan, 400km (250 miles) north-east of the rocket launch site.

After investigating the incident, Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, determined that one of the rocket's boosters failed and remained stuck to the main rocket body instead of peeling off.

"The reason for the abnormal separation. was due to a deformation of the stem of the contact separation sensor.", Skorobogatov told reporters.

Speaking at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Krikalev said the sensor in question "should signal the removal of the first rocket stage from the second".

Following the investigation by the space experts, "appropriate law enforcement authorities" will work out who is guilty of the assembly mistake, said Roscosmos deputy head Alexander Lopatin.


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