Early in October a Russian Soyuz rocket destined for the International Space Station experienced a malfunction shortly after launch.

The two crew members – NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin – were forced to make a ballistic re-entry but made it back to terra firma safely.

Following the malfunction Russian space agency Roscosmos launched an investigation and the findings from that investigation were released yesterday.

“The launch ended up with a launcher failure caused by abnormal separation of one of the strap-on boosters (Block D) that hit with its nose the core stage (Block A) in the fuel tank area. It resulted in its decompression and, as consequence, the space rocket lost its attitude control,” the space agency said.

The failure has been traced back to a separation sensor pin which was bent a little over six degrees. Small as that angle seems it clearly made a massive impact on the functionality of the rocket.

“It was damaged during the assembling of the strap-on boosters with the core stage (the Packet) at the Baikonur Cosmodrome,” said Roscosmos, adding that the Emergency Rescue System functioned properly and the crew acted accordingly.

In light of these findings Roscosmos will develop preventive measures to avoid such malfunctions in future. Urgent action will be taken so that Soyuz launches can resume later this month.

The State Comittee has approved the following launch dates under the International Space Station Program:

  • Unmanned Soyuz-FG rocket with Progress MS −10 cargo spaceship to ISS on 16th November
  • Soyuz MS-11 manned spaceship to ISS on 3rd December

The current crew aboard the ISS – Alexander Gerst, Sergey Prokopiev and Serina Auñón-Chensellor – will return to Earth on 20th December.

 

[Image – CC BY ND NASA HQ PHOTO]