It’s only been a few weeks since the Soyuz rocket launched by Russian space agency Roscosmos was forced to abort its launch shortly after takeoff. The two-man crew managed to make it back to Earth safely, but their planned journey to the International Space Station was obviously cut very short. Now, Russia believes it knows what happened.
A few days after the mishap, Roscosmos offered a possible explanation. The agency explained that it seemed as though two of the rocket’s stages had impacted each other during separation. Such a collision would have certainly caused problems, but Russia wanted to do a deeper dive to figure out how such an accident was possible in the first place. Now, as Russian news agency TASS reports, the findings are complete and it seems a rogue sensor was to blame.
In a statement to TASS, Roscosmos executive director Sergey Krikalev explained that the original assumption of a collision between the first and second stages was indeed accurate, and that the first stage accidentally slammed into the fuel tank of the second stage. The mishap was caused by a malfunctioning sensor that is supposed to detect the separation of the stages.
The sensor’s failure caused an issue with the separation and ultimately caused the collision that crippled the rocket and led to an immediate abort. The good news here is that the abort system worked perfectly, and the crew made it back in one piece.
NASA took a stance early on that the investigation into the rocket failure was in good hands with the Russian space program, and that it would stand by whatever conclusions were reached. With the investigation now wrapped up, the Russians are expected to accelerate the timeline to the next manned launch in order to make up for lost time aboard the International Space Station.
Roscosmos is confident that the rocket failure was a one-time ordeal that will not be repeated, so we’ll be eager to see how the next launch goes.