March 20, 2019

Soyuz rocket failure caused by damaged sensor, says Russian Federation

03 November 2018, 09:44 | Dale Webster

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Russian space officials plan to conduct one more unmanned Soyuz launch from Russia and one overseas before launching a crew to the space station.

Roscosmos is confident that the rocket failure was a one-time ordeal that will not be repeated, so we'll be eager to see how the next launch goes.

However the safe descent to Earth by cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin and United States astronaut Nick Hague led both Roscosmos and NASA to stand by the Soyuz system as reliable.

The accident was the first involving a manned launch since the Soviet era and delivered another blow to the image of Russia's space programme after embarrassing losses of satellites and of an unmanned cargo ship in 2015.

That mission was originally scheduled for later December, but officials want to bring it forward to ensure the station is not left unmanned in autopilot when its current three-man crew depart for Earth.

"This is the first launch of a rocket from the Soyuz family since the October 11 accident", Russia's space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin wrote on Twitter.

Live video of the astronauts inside showed them shaking violently with vibrations caused by the malfunction. The two-man crew managed to make it back to Earth safely, but their planned journey to the International Space Station was obviously cut very short.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos immediately launched an investigation into the rocket failure.

"The cause of the abnormal separation was the failure to open the lid of the exhaust nozzle of the oxidizer tank of the "D" block due to the deformation of the stem of the contact separation sensor committed during assembly of the "package" at the Baikonur Cosmodrome", he said.

The abortive launch last month of a manned Soyuz mission to space was caused by a sensor damaged during the rocket's assembly at the cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Russian investigators said on Thursday.

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.

Following the investigation, "appropriate law enforcement authorities" will work out who is guilty of the assembly mistake, Lopatin said. Three people remain in orbit: American astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, German ISS Commander Alexander Gerst, and Russian Sergey Prokopyev. It's relied upon by NASA, Europe, Russia, and other partners.

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