Soyuz rocket: 'Faulty sensor' led to launch failure

Cesar Mills
November 3, 2018

It's only been a few weeks since the Soyuz rocket launched by Russian space agency Roscosmos was forced to abort its launch shortly after takeoff.

The investigation by Roscosmos revealed that a damaged sensor during the rocket's assembly at the cosmodrome in Kazakhstan caused the rocket failure. They landed safely on a steppe in Kazakhstan, but the aborted mission dealt another blow to the troubled Russian space program that serves as the only way to deliver astronauts to the orbiting outpost.

"We have a number of Russian Soyuz rocket launches in the next month and a half and in December, we're fully anticipating putting our crew on a Russian Soyuz rocket to launch to the International Space Station again", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said last week.

A new manned space mission is expected to be launched on December 3 while an unmanned Progress cargo spaceship will be sent to the ISS on November 16.

Russian space agency Roscosmos aired footage filmed by an onboard camera, showing the Soyuz blasting off and climbing normally until three of its booster rockets detach, with one of them appearing to fall inwards, rather than away from it.

About 84 seconds into the video, you can see one of the side boosters stick to the rocket, sending it careening back to the ground because it was too heavy.

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Russian cosmonaut and mission commander Alexei Ovchinin and United States astronaut flight engineer Nick Hague ejected in an emergency capsule on October 11 after the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle taking them to the ISS failed due to a malfunctioning booster.

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

Krikalyov said the astronauts now on the ISS - Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, NASA's Serena Aunon-Chancellor, and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos - are expected back on Earth "around December 20".

The Soyuz "remains the most reliable rocket", said Dmitry Baranov, the acting director of Russia's Energia rocket and space corporation.

The crew is set to include Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, who was originally scheduled to fly to the station December 20 on a six-month mission.

The incident was the first serious launch problem by a manned Soyuz mission since 1983.

Other reports by GizPress

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