Published: Thu, November 01, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Soyuz rocket: 'Faulty sensor' led to launch failure

Soyuz rocket: 'Faulty sensor' led to launch failure

The Soyuz-FG rocket carrying a NASA astronaut and his Russian crewmate failed two minutes into the October 11 flight, sending their emergency capsule into a sharp fall back to Earth.

The next human space flight via the Russian Soyuz spacecraft is expected to launch on December 3, the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, announced on Thursday.

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

A Russian Soyuz rocket capsule was forced to make an emergency landing shortly after launch last month because of a faulty sensor, investigators say.

Sergei Krikalev, the executive director of "manned programs" for Russia's space corporation, Roscosmos, said a sensor on board the rocket failed to properly signal the separation of the first and second stages.

They warned that two other Soyuz rockets could be defective, and said additional checks have been introduced.

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.

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Russia, the only country able to ferry astronauts to the orbiting science lab, suspended all launches after a rocket failed on October 11 just minutes after blast-off -the first such incident in the history of post-Soviet space travel.

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

The rocket had been transporting two personnel, one Russian and one American, to the International Space Station (ISS) when they had to abort.

Russian rockets are manufactured in Russia but the final assembly takes place at the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome.

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 to back on Earth "around December 20".

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft is now the only vehicle for ferrying crews to the International Space Station after the USA space shuttle fleet retired. Russian Federation stands to lose that monopoly with the arrival of SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's Starliner crew capsules.

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