Abnormal Booster Separation At Fault For Soyuz Launch Failure

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Image: NASA

Image: NASA

The failure of a Soyuz-FG launch vehicle on Oct. 11 was caused by abnormal separation of one of the rocket’s boosters, according to Russian space agency Roscosmos. The committee investigating the incident says the malfunctioning booster hit the vehicle’s core stage in the fuel tank area, resulting in its decompression and a loss of attitude control. The MS-10 space capsule carrying American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin separated from the launch vehicle and entered a ballistic trajectory, allowing it to land safely roughly 200 miles east of the launch point. Both crew members were uninjured.

The separation failure, which can be seen in the video below, was traced back to the deformation of a separation sensor pin. The agency believes the damage was caused during assembly when the boosters were being attached to the core stage at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Roscosmos says it is developing measures to prevent future occurrences. The investigation committee found no issues with either crew performance or the Soyuz MS-10 Emergency Crew Rescue System.

Soyuz launches were suspended pending the results of this investigation. Roscosmos says it now intends to resume launches to the International Space Station shortly, with a cargo launch planned for Nov. 16 and a manned launch on Dec. 3. Before the Oct. 11 incident, the last failure of a manned Soyuz launch occurred in 1983; that crew also landed safely.

Translation: Launch of the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle with a manned spacecraft #SoyuzMS10. Video from onboard cameras

Comments (2)

> and a loss of altitude control...

Was this suppose to read "attitude control?" If not, further explanation would be helpful.

Posted by: Mark Sletten | November 2, 2018 7:50 AM    Report this comment

Some reports state that the pin was bent a very specific 6degree 45'. It seems likely that the booster must have been recovered on the ground to determine this value, but I have not seen any confirmation of this. Does anyone know?

Posted by: Andrew Ralston | November 2, 2018 1:30 PM    Report this comment

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