Russian Soyuz Rocket Failure Captured in Released Roscosmos Video
Roscosmos reveals the results of its investigation.
On October 11, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin hurtled towards space and then tumbled right back down to Earth. The plan was to journey in a Russian-built Soyuz capsule to the International Space Station. However, 119 seconds into flight, during the separation of the side boosters of the first stage from the central booster of the second stage, the second stage booster rocket shut down. The crew was forced to parachute down in ballistic descent mode and landed safely in central Kazakhstan.
In the video above, you can see it all go down. Everything appears to be normal until the clip hits the 1:25 mark. That’s when it’s clear an emergency landing needs to happen.
This video was released Thursday by the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities as part of its investigation into the incident — the first serious launch problem by a manned Soyuz space mission since 1983. Roscosmos officials told press that they determined that the accident was linked to the “deformation” of a sensor part sometime during its manufacture. The sensor rod was determined to be bent by a little more than six degrees.
“It has been proven, fully confirmed, that this happened specifically because of this sensor, and that it could have only happened during the package’s assembly at the Baikonur cosmodrome,” chief investigator Igor Skorobogatov told reporters.
It’s thought that this sensor’s failure caused the booster rocket from the first stage to malfunction and hit the nose of the fuel tank. This led to depressurization, loss of stabilization, and triggered the Soyuz spacecraft’s automatic escape system. That’s when, under high g-forces, the crew plunged back down to Earth, miraculously landing without any injuries. The two men were rescued within an hour of the unplanned landing.
Currently, if you want to go to the ISS you have to pay Russia because its rockets are the only ones ferrying people up there. The next manned Soyuz mission is scheduled for December 3 at 6:31 am EST. NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, and Roscosmos’ Oleg Kononenko will fly on a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the ISS.
According to the BBC the launch was originally scheduled for late December but was moved forward to make sure the station wasn’t left unmanned in autopilot. On December 20, the ISS’s current inhabitants will undock their Soyuz spacecraft and journey back to their home planet.