Published: Fri, November 02, 2018
Sci-tech | By Javier West

Russian official says Soyuz rocket failure caused by an errant sensor

Russian official says Soyuz rocket failure caused by an errant sensor

Russia's space agency says an investigation has found that a rocket carrying a crew to the International Space Station failed recently because of a technical malfunction of a sensor.

The Soyuz-FG rocket carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin failed shortly into the October 11 flight, sending their capsule into a sharp fall back to Earth.

Thankfully, the two men on board, Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin, survived without injury and landed on the ground in Kazakhstan.

Krikalyov blamed a "malfunction" of the sensor separating the first and second stages of the rocket for the problem and said that efforts were being taken to ensure the safety of future flights.

But he didn't explain why the sensor didn't work.

Igor Skorobogatov, who headed the inquiry, said on Thursday that the issue was linked to the "deformation" of a sensor part.

Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, posted a video of the botched launch to Twitter on Thursday.

The Soyuz is then knocked sharply off its trajectory and can be seen shaking and swinging as the footage is partly obscured by a spewing white cloud.

"It was damaged during the assembling of the strap-on boosters with the core stage at the Baikonur Cosmodrome".

Russian officials believe that the defective component was damaged during assembly.

"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. During the Soyuz spacecraft's climb to orbit, an anomaly occurred, and the crew was forced to make an emergency landing.

Two more Soyuz rockets at the Baikonur and Kourou spaceports with the same defect have been discovered, Skorobogatov said, with additional checks introduced into the rocket assembly process.

Roscosmos officials on Wednesday met with their counterparts from NASA to give them a full briefing on the malfunction, Roscosmos director general Dmitry Rogozin said Thursday.

The accident was the first serious launch problem experienced by a manned Soyuz space mission since 1983 when a crew narrowly escaped before a launchpad explosion. In fact, a Soyuz launch to carry cargo to the space station is scheduled for November 16 and a crewed launch set for December 3.

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