November 12, 2018

Dramatic on-board video shows moment of Soyuz booster failure


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New video released by the Russian space agency Thursday shows the moment a Soyuz rocket ran into trouble around two minutes after liftoff with a two-man crew Oct. 11, when one of the vehicle’s four first stage boosters crashed into the Soyuz core stage.

An on-board safety system immediately detected the malfunction, triggering an automatic abort with escape rockets that pushed the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft with Russia cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague safely away from the rocket.

The crew landed downrange on the steppe of Kazakhstan after the first use of the Soyuz crew escape system since 1983.

The video from a rear-facing camera on the Soyuz-FG rocket shows the kerosene-fueled launcher lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, followed by a sped-up video sequence during the rocket’s initial climb. The video then reverts to a real-time sequence before the separation of the four strap-on boosters from the core stage.

The boosters are supposed to separate simultaneously, but one of the units appears to cling to the center stage in the video, before colliding with the core section, causing the rocket to veer out of control.

Russian investigators announced Thursday that the Oct. 11 failure was caused by a “deformed” sensor in the booster separation system. Read more details in our full story on the investigation’s results.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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