It’s only been a couple of weeks since Russia’s Soyuz rocket launch towards the International Space Station ended abruptly due to an unspecified failure, sending the two passengers back down to Earth, where they landed safely. NASA immediately offered a show of support for the Russian space program and said things would work themselves out in short order.
That confidence appears to have been well-placed, as NASA’s administrator Jim Bridenstine now says that Soyuz rocket launches are expected to resume shortly, and that a planned December flight is still on track. Bridenstine made the comments during a meeting of the National Space Council.
“We have a number of Russian Soyuz rocket launches in the next month and a half and in December, we’re fully anticipating putting our crew on a Russian Soyuz rocket to launch to the International Space Station again,” Bridenstine explained during the meeting. “We have a really, really good idea of what the issue is. We’re getting very close to understanding it even better so we can confidently launch again.”
That “really, really good idea” of what went wrong is likely the same explanation that Roscosmos developed after investigating the launch failure and the timing of how things played out. In the days immediately following the incident the Russian space group had developed a theory that the rocket’s stages had somehow collided during a separate process due to “a deviation from the standard trajectory.” Put simply, the rocket kind of got in its own way.
As for the crew that had their mission cut very, very short, Bridenstine noted that they are both still very eager to head to space despite the unfortunate hiccup. “While our astronaut and their cosmonaut are home safe, they’re not happy,” Bridenstine told the council. “They want to be on the International Space Station, and they cannot wait to go again. So we’re grateful for their enthusiasm. NASA is regrouping, we’re replanning and we’re getting ready to go again.”