Russian Soyuz Rocket Failure Due to a Faulty Sensor

On Oct 11, a Russian Soyuz rocket capsule made an emergency landing just after launch due to a faulty sensor, according to investigators.

Russian officials believe the sensor was damaged during assembly. The officials cautioned that two other Soyuz rockets could be defective, and said additional verifications are underway.

Asgardia has been monitoring this story closely as these types ofThe rocket was transporting two personnel, one Russian and one American, to the International Space Station (ISS) at the time of launch failure. The rescue team found Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and American astronaut Nick Hague in good health after they had to escape from the capsule. The incident marked the first serious launch problem by a human-crewed Soyuz space mission since 1983.

This past Thursday, the findings of an official investigation into the incident were announced at a press conference. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, stated yesterday that they hope to resume crewed missions with a three-person launch to the ISS on December 3, 2018.

That mission was initially set for later in December; however, officials want to move it up to guarantee that the station is not left uncrewed in autopilot when its present three-person crew are sent back to Earth. The Soyuz-FG rocket launched at 08:40 local time (02:40 GMT) from the Baikanour cosmodrome site on the 11th of October when the malfunction took place. Approximately 90 seconds into the rocket’s flight, the US space agency NASA reported a problem with the booster rocket between the first and second stages of separating.

Live video of the astronauts inside portrays them shaking violently with vibrations that were a result of the malfunction.After around 114 seconds of flight, the emergency escape system was deployed, separating the crew capsule from the rocket, which then entered “ballistic descent” before parachuting to earth.Emergency workers then found the two crew members near the Kazakh city of Dzhezkazgan, 400km (250 miles) north-east of the rocket launch site.Although the descent and landing were not smooth, both men were recovered with no injuries, according to both space agencies.As soon as the incident occurred the Russian space agency, Roscosmos launched an investigation into the rocket failure.

Igor Skorobogatov, who led the inquiry, explained on Thursday that the problem was connected to the “deformation” of a sensor part. He added that it has now been proven and fully confirmed, that this incident took place specifically due to this sensor, and that could only have happened during the package’s assembly at the Baikonur cosmodrome. Officials think the sensor’s failure caused a booster rocket from the first stage to malfunction and hit a fuel tank, which led to the loss of stabilization and resulted in the emergency landing. Alexander Lopatin, the deputy head of Roscosmos, also stated that appropriate law enforcement authorities will now investigate who was responsible for the assembly error.

Russian rockets are presently manufactured inside the country and then moved to the facility in Kazakhstan for assembly and launch. As of now, Russia is the only country sending crews to the ISS, since Nasa’s Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011. Ever since that time, Nasa has paid Russia for seats on its Soyuz rockets to transport its astronauts to the station. In the face of various technical errors in recent years Russia maintains its space program is still safe. For instance, in August, a hole appeared in a Soyuz capsule that was already docked to the ISS which had to be patched after it resulted in a brief loss of air pressure. However, officials suggested it may have been on purpose. Fortunately, although space missions may often come across technical difficulties, fatalities have been relatively uncommon.

The last fatal accident happened in 2003 when Nasa’s Space Shuttle Columbia broke up on re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, killing seven crew members.