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.
NASA safety advisors on Thursday lauded hardware milestones on Boeing and SpaceX commercial crew capsules, but said multiple technical issues, including problems with parachutes, must be resolved before the human-rated ships are ready to carry astronauts, adding that both companies continue to pursue schedules that appear to be unachievable.
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.
Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague landed safely downrange in Kazakhstan on Thursday after a Soyuz booster failure cut short their ascent into orbit from the Baikonur Cosmodrome toward the International Space Station. The emergency landing was the first Soyuz in-flight abort since 1975.