14Oct2018

Soyuz Rocket Failure: What Went Wrong?

After a successful emergency abort, two men are safe, but what about the vehicle that failed them? Two astronauts made an emergency landing last week after a Russian Soyuz rocket failed while launching them to theSpace Station.

An “anomaly” occurred as the Soyuz spacecraft carrying two astronauts launched toward the International Space Station from the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday. The crew had to abort. NASA/Bill Ingalls

According to NASA officials, the rocket failed in its ascent soon after liftoff and the capsule with the astronauts inside — one Russian and one American — was sent careening back to Earth. A search-and-rescue team reached the site quickly to get to the Soyuz MS-10 crew, leaving at 6:10 A.M. EDT, according to NASA spokesperson Brandi Dean’s commentary on live television.

Both crew members are reportedly safe and in good condition, and have already been reunited with their families. The Soyuz FG rocket used in the launch malfunctioned just two minutes after liftoff in Kazakhstan. The failure forced Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague to execute an emergency abort and return the few hundred miles to the launch site.in Kazakhstan

“Today showed again what an amazing vehicle the Soyuz is, to be able to save the crew from such a failure. Spaceflight is hard. And we must keep trying for the benefit of humankind,” ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted from aboard the space station as he watched and photographed the launch from space. After the crew successfully navigated the failure and landed safely, they boarded a plane to fly back to the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

U.S. Depends on Russian Rockets

This failure comes as America is working to wean itself off of its Russian rocket dependency. For years, since NASA’s final shuttle mission launched in 2011, the U.S. has relied on Russian rockets to send astronauts to the International Space Station, which is largely funded by America taxpayer dollars. Now, American companies SpaceX and Boeing are working to launch their first crewed missions to space.

The missions both hope to launch in 2019, though they have each experienced delays thus far. These will be the first crewed missions to launch from American soil since 2011 and, while the issues with the Soyuz MS-10 mission will likely be resolved by then, this will allow for increased access to space and reduce dependency.
Investigating the Mishap

NASA and Roscosmos officials say they are launching an investigation into exactly what went wrong with the rocket and why. “A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted alongside an official statement on the Soyuz MS-10 Launch Abort. Officials are also investigating the strange hole recently found in a Soyuz spacecraft aboard the International Space Station.

However, in the meantime, this failure has a number of consequences for the agencies and the crew aboard the space station. It is also possible that this event could affect the next scheduled crew launch of three astronauts in December who were set to replace NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev and Gerst.Luckily, these crew members will not be stranded on the space station, as they will return to earth in the capsules they traveled to the station in. But exactly when the astronauts will be sent home is still unclear. Adapted: Astronomy

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