Watch the Moment a Damaged Sensor Caused the Soyuz Rocket to Fail

The head of the Russian space agency earlier blamed the failure on a malfunction of a sensor, but didn't explain why it didn't work.

On October 11, a Soyuz-FG launch vehicle with two members of the new crew for the International Space Station on board failed to reach its destination, becoming the first failure of a manned space launch in modern Russian history.

Nearly three weeks ago, on October 12, a Soyuz rocket carrying a NASA astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut failed mid-flight, 31 miles above Earth's surface.

Oleg Skorobogatov, who led the probe into the accident, told reporters Thursday that the investigation has found that the sensor was damaged during the final assembly at the launchpad in Kazakhstan.

"The cause of the abnormal separation was the failure to open the lid of the exhaust nozzle of the oxidizer tank of the "D" block due to the deformation of the stem of the contact separation sensor committed during assembly of the "package" at the Baikonur Cosmodrome", he said.

The video, which was posted various places including the official Roscosmos Twitter account, shows the rocket launch from the very start all the way to its eventual abort. Specifically, additional checks were introduced during preparation of the Soyuz 2.1B rocket, which was launched on October 25.

It was the fourth time a Soyuz called upon ballistic reentry to avoid disaster, and the first major issue with a manned Soyuz mission since 1983.


A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying two people failed in mid-flight on October 12.

Referencing findings of an official inquiry into the accident, Skorobogatov said two more Soyuz rockets might have the same defect.

Russian rockets are manufactured in Russia and then transported by rail to the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome.

Roscosmos officials on Wednesday met with their counterparts from NASA to give them a full briefing of the incident, Roscosmos director general Dmitry Rogozin said on Thursday. Right now Russia's Soyuz fleet is the only vessel capable of ferrying scientists to the International Space Station.

Space Daily carries an Agence France Presse report which said with the cause identified, Roscosmos believes it could conduct a crewed launch well ahead of the ISS's deadline.

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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