Russian commander Alexey Ovchinin, NASA co-pilot Nick Hague and astronaut Christina Koch lifted off aboard a Soyuz rocket Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, heading for the International Space Station to raise the research outpost’s crew complement back to six. The Soyuz booster launched at 1914 GMT (3:14 p.m. EDT), and docking at the space station occurred at 0101 GMT (9:01 p.m. EDT).
Russian investigators have traced the cause of a dramatic Oct. 11 Soyuz launch abort to a “deformed” sensor in a system that controlled the separation of a strap-on first-stage booster from the rocket’s central core stage, triggering a dramatic emergency escape for the Russian mission commander and his NASA co-pilot, senior managers said Thursday.
Russian engineers have a “really, really good idea” about what went wrong during a Soyuz launch to the International Space Station Oct. 11, forcing the ship’s two-man crew to carry out an emergency abort, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Tuesday. He added that he expects the Russians to resume piloted Soyuz flights in December.
A normally reliable Soyuz FG rocket malfunctioned two minutes after liftoff from Kazakhstan Thursday, forcing a Russian cosmonaut and his NASA crewmate to execute an emergency abort and a steep-but-safe return to Earth a few hundred miles from the launch site. Russian recovery crews reported the crew came through the ordeal in good shape.