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Russia thinks it knows why its trusty Soyuz rocket failed

Published Oct 15th, 2018 1:30PM EDT
soyuz rocket failure

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Last week’s seemingly routine Roscosmos launch to the International Space Station went a bit sideways after the rocket carrying a NASA astronaut and his Russian counterpart failed during takeoff. The mission was aborted and the crew was able to safely make it back down to solid ground, but Russia was quick to announce that it was launchjing a full investigation to determine what could have gone wrong.

Now, the Russian space agency says it has an idea of what the problem was, and it thankfully doesn’t involve any mysterious holes being drilled on spacecraft components. According to a statement released by Roscosmos, the failure was likely the result of collision between the rocket’s discarded first stage and the second stage of the booster.

Russian news agency TASS quotes Roscosmos Executive Director for Manned Flights, Sergei Krikalyov, who revealed the preliminary investigation results.

“A deviation from the standard trajectory occurred and apparently the lower part of the second stage disintegrated. The rocket stopped its normal flight and after that the automatic system did its work,” Krikalyov said in a statement. “This could have been caused by the failure of the system of the normal separation, which should have been activated. We will analyze the causes in detail.”

The statement offers more detail regarding the failure than was previously known, but leaves a few questions unanswered. The failure was caused by collision between the rocket’s stages, but why that happened and if it was due to a failure of a rocket component or simply bad luck remains to be seen.

Roscosmos is continuing its investigation into the incident in greater detail and expects to have a more concrete explanation sometime after October 20th. At that point, the agency expects to resume its normal schedule of launches, barring any major overhauls.