Russian Soyuz Rocket Failure Caused By Damaged Sensor, Reveals Probe

"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.

The executive director of the Russian space agency said today its investigation found the failure was caused by a malfunctioning sensor.

Russia's space agency suspended all manned space launches after an October 11 rocket failure forced a Soyuz capsule with two astronauts on board to make an emergency landing.

Thankfully, the two men on board, Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin, survived without injury and landed on the ground in Kazakhstan.

Oleg Skorobogatov, who led the probe into the accident, told reporters Thursday that the investigation found that the sensor was damaged during the final assembly at the launch pad in Kazakhstan.

The video released by space agency Roscosmos from the vessel's onboard camera on Thursday shows a steady ascent into space being interrupted by a failed booster separation that sends the vessel into a spin.

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

"We have a number of Russian Soyuz rocket launches in the next month and a half and in December, we're fully anticipating putting our crew on a Russian Soyuz rocket to launch to the International Space Station again", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said last week. Skorobogatov said the Soyuz's central block was hit "in the fuel tank area, causing a depressurization and, as a result, a loss of the space rocket's stabilization".

"We have conclusively established that the only place where [damage to the sensor] could have taken place was the Baikonur cosmodrome during the rocket's assembly".

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

Russian space officials plan to conduct one more unmanned Soyuz launch from Russia and one overseas before launching a crew to the space station.

Sergei Krikalyov, a senior Roscosmos official, was quoted by state news agency TASS as saying the next manned launch had been planned for mid-December, but that Russian Federation was trying to bring the date forward so that the ISS is not briefly left without a crew.

  • Joey Payne