Soyuz rocket failure traced to faulty on-site assembly - probe results


An investigation determined that a malfunctioning sensor caused a Soyuz rocket to fail shortly after it was launched in Kazakhstan on October 11, the executive director of the Russian space agency announced.

MOSCOW-An investigation has found that a failed Russian rocket launch three weeks ago that aborted after just two minutes was caused by a sensor that was damaged during assembly, a top Russian official said on Thursday.

The crew - NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin - had their space capsule ejected from the rocket and survived without injury. Both managed to evacuate.

"We have to draw conclusions from every emergency situation", said Roscosmos deputy director Alexander Lopatin, adding that Russian Federation has discussed the findings of the probe with Nasa.

The Russian rocket that carried two people to space last month failed and sent the craft back to Earth because of "deformation" of a part that was made during assembly at the cosmodrome, a space official said on November 1. As a result, one of the side-mounted rocket boosters did not separate properly from the vehicle and collided with the rocket.

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.

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.

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According to the official, the emergency situation, which occurred during the 118th second of flight, led the Russian space industry to take urgent measures to prevent similar failures from ever taking place.

During the aborted launch, Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin and U.S. astronaut Nick Hague made an emergency landing and escaped unharmed.

Alexander Lopatin, the deputy head of Roscosmos, said that "appropriate law enforcement authorities" will now look into who was responsible for the assembly error.

The next manned mission to the International Space Station may launch on December 3, state news agency TASS cited Russian space agency Roscosmos as saying on Wednesday.

The upcoming launch will loft cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Anne McClain and the Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques.

The trio had originally been scheduled to blast off on December 20, but had their trip brought forward after the failed October 11 launch.