A Russian space investigation discovered that it was a damaged sensor that caused the rocket to make an emergency landing just two minutes after it was launched.
The Soyuz-FG rocket was carrying astronaut Nick Hague and Roscomos cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin. The capsule failed on October 11, sending the rocket falling sharping back to Earth. Both people in the spacecraft landed safely on the Kazakhstan steps. This launch was the first of its kind for Russia’s space program in over 30 years.
The Russian space agency initially blamed a malfunctioning sensor on the failure but didn’t explain any further. They then shared that after investigating the situation, the sensor was somehow impaired during the final assembly. While Russian rockets are typically assembled in Russia, the final product is then transported by train to a Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The last time Russia aborted the launch of a spacecraft was in 1983. Two Soviet cosmonauts landed safety after a launchpad explosion. Russia’s space program has also had a few failed satellite launches more recently. Officials are now taking extra precautionary steps in order to ensure that all staff members working on assembly will be competent, along with having mandatory additional training.
Maybe they should start with a model rocket
The assembly staff will also break down and reassemble two rockets that have been recently amassed and were due to launch in the next coming weeks.
Roscosmos officials met with counterparts from NASA to fully explain the malfunction and exactly what went wrong. The officials plan to officiate two unmanned Soyuz launches before adding a crew into the mix.
So much galaxy, so little time
NASA’s Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russian Sergei Prokopyev, and German Alexander Gerst make up the current space station team. The three were scheduled to return to Earth in early December after a long six-month mission but will remain for an extra couple of weeks in order to ensure a smooth transition to the new crew.
The Russian Soyuz rocket is currently the only spacecraft that can transport humans to the International Space Station, after the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle.