Dramatic onboard footage captures Soyuz rocket launch failure

Kerry GarnerNov 02, 2018

MOSCOW-An investigation has found that a failed Russian rocket launch three weeks ago that aborted after just two minutes was caused by a sensor that was damaged during assembly, a top Russian official said on Thursday.

The incident, triggered by a mechanical failure, forced two astronauts to abandon ship shortly after launching from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Last week, Russian Federation successfully launched a Soyuz rocket for the first time since the failure.

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.

The crew - Nick Hague, a NASA astronaut, and Alexey Ovchinin, a Russian cosmonaut - had their space capsule ejected from the rocket and survived without injury.

But the failure is worrisome, since Soyuz is the only human-rated spacecraft now used to get people to and from the International Space Station.

Because of the sensor failure, a side block of the first rocket stage separated incorrectly, impacting the second-stage fuel tank, which then exploded.

An uncrewed Soyuz ISS mission will precede the December 3 liftoff, Russian space officials added today: A Soyuz will launch a robotic Russian Progress cargo ship toward the orbiting lab on November 16.

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Live video of the astronauts inside showed them shaking violently with vibrations caused by the malfunction.

Ovchinin and Hague returned safely back to Earth in their capsule, and are likely get their chance to go to the space station in the spring, Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin has said.

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. Both men were fine.

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.

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

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

"The abnormal separation was caused by the nonopening of the lid of the nozzle meant to separate aside Block D oxidizer tank, due to the deformation of the separation sensor pin [which was bent by 6 degrees and 45 minutes]", Roscosmos officials said in a statement today. It's relied upon by NASA, Europe, Russia, and other partners. However, the quick return to crewed flights is likely to prove a relief to the global spaceflight community.

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