Russian Soyuz Rocket Failure Caused By Damaged Sensor, Reveals Probe

International Space Station

International Space Station

During the aborted launch October 11, the crew capusle carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin was able to safely separate from the rocket after getting a warning signal during separation, firing engines to gain distance from the booster, according to NASA spokesperson Reid Weisman.

The next manned mission to the International Space Station may launch on December 3, state news agency TASS cited Russian space agency Roscosmos as saying on Wednesday.

Russian rockets have experienced an array of glitches in recent years, but the latest mishap was the first to be experienced by a manned Soyuz capsule since 1983, when a crew narrowly escaped before a launchpad explosion.

It was the third launch of a Soyuz rocket from Russia's northern Plesetsk launch pad this year, the military said.

Roscosmos has scheduled a press conference for November 1 to further detail the outcome of its investigation.

The three crewmembers now on the station will return to Earth Dec. 20, a week later than originally scheduled, Roscosmos officials said.

What happened during the flight?

Speaking at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Krikalev said the sensor in question "should signal the removal of the first rocket stage from the second".

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This was ultimately what doomed the mission, as the piece slammed into the side of the second stage booster fuel tank.

Live video of the astronauts inside showed them shaking violently with vibrations caused by the malfunction. This damage caused the rocket's built-in safety features to initiate an immediate abort before anyone even had a chance to think about it, and the two passengers soon found themselves flying back towards Earth in the crew capsule.

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.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos immediately launched an investigation into the rocket failure.

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.

Alexander Lopatin, the deputy head of Roscosmos, said that "appropriate law enforcement authorities" will now look into who was responsible for the assembly error. It's relied upon by NASA, Europe, Russia, and other partners.

Since then, Nasa has paid Russian Federation for seats on its Soyuz rockets to ferry its astronauts to the station.

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