Russian Federation blames rocket failure on mistake during assembly

by Fredrick Graves November 2, 2018, 0:45
Russian Federation blames rocket failure on mistake during assembly

"The cause of a non-standard separation (of the rocket's second stage)" was a "deformation" of a part during assembly at the Baikonur cosmodrome, said Oleg Skorobogatov who headed the Russian commission probing the accident.

Stunning new footage of last month's near-catastrophic Soyuz rocket mishap, released Thursday by Russian space agency Rocosmos, shows the harrowing moment when everything went wrong, just as the rocket escaped the clutches of gravity.

The Oct.11 launch was meant to carry NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin to the International Space Station, but a short time after blast-off an "anomaly" occurred as the first-stage boosters separated.

The spacecraft landed safely near the city of Zhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan.

Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, posted a video of the botched launch on Twitter on Thursday.

The Soyuz is now the only rocket that is capable of sending humans to the ISS and a launch failure hasn't happened since 1983.

Skorobogatov said officials are now taking steps, including putting all assembly staff through competence tests and additional training, to make sure such malfunctions don't happen again.

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The incident, triggered by a mechanical failure, forced two astronauts to abandon ship shortly after launching from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The rocket producer will also take apart two other rockets which have been recently assembled and are due to launch in the coming weeks and then reassemble them, Skorogobatov said.

Roscosmos officials on Wednesday met with their counterparts from NASA to give them a full briefing on the malfunction, Roscosmos director general Dmitry Rogozin said Thursday.

The rocket had been transporting two personnel, one Russian and one American, to the International Space Station (ISS) when they had to abort.

The current space station crew - made up of NASA's Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russian Sergei Prokopyev and German Alexander Gerst - was scheduled to return to Earth in December after a six-month mission but will have to stay there for at least an extra week or two to ensure a smooth carry-over before the new crew arrives in early December.

Russian space officials say they hope to resume sending crews to the International Space Station on December 3 after an October launch failed because of a technical malfunction.

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