Russia says its doomed rocket was damaged before takeoff, causing launch failure
By Mike Wehner
It was just a couple of days ago that Russian space agency Roscosmos announced that its probe into the Soyuz rocket failure had officially wrapped up. The investigation concluded that a malfunctioning sensor was the culprit, and that it failed to adequately separate the first and second rocket stages, causing one piece of the spacecraft to slam into the second stage.
Now, Russia is adding a bit more detail to that explanation, saying that the reason the sensor malfunctioned wasn’t related to manufacturing of the sensor itself. It seems officials have been able to determine that the sensor was actually damaged during assembly of the rocket, long before launch day.
In new statements published online, Oleg Skorobogatov, the head of the team chosen to investigate the malfunction, elaborated on the commission’s findings. He reportedly said that the sensor had been deformed during assembly, and that human error ultimately doomed the spacecraft. Damage caused during the manufacturing of the sensor itself was reportedly ruled out.
Additionally, Skorobogatov explained that there is concern that sensors on other Soyuz rockets may have the same damage. That’s not something worth taking a chance on, so Roscosmos engineers will be investigating that possibility to ensure that another launch abort doesn’t pop up in the near future.
As for the repercussions for the individuals involved in the assembly process, they will reportedly be required to take additional training and complete “competence” tests in order to ensure they know what they’re doing.
This is all part of the larger effort to ensure that Russia and its Soyuz rockets continue to be the go-to for manned flights to the International Space Station, at least until the United States gets its own manned flight platforms up and running. The next manned launch is slated for early December, and you can be sure that all eyes will be on Roscosmos in anticipation of another mishap. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
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