Dramatic onboard footage captures Soyuz rocket launch failure

Sergei Savostyanov  TASS

The abortive launch last month of a manned Soyuz mission to space was caused by a sensor damaged during the rocket's assembly at the cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Russian investigators said on Thursday. The two men made an emergency landing in Kazakhstan, and were soon rescued.

The rocket failed two minutes into the flight, sending NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Alexei Ovchinin of Roscosmos plummeting 50 kilometres to earth.

Russian space officials say they hope to resume sending crews to the International Space Station on December 3 after an October launch failed because of a technical malfunction.

The chief investigator at Roscosmos, Igor Skorobogatov, said during the press briefing that two other Soyuz rockets could possibly have the same defect and that more checks have been introduced during the assembly process.

NASA took a stance early on that the investigation into the rocket failure was in good hands with the Russian space program, and that it would stand by whatever conclusions were reached.

The camera mounted on the rocket showed the moment of a failed separation of the first and second stages.

The Soyuz-FG rocket carrying a NASA astronaut and a Roscosmos cosmonaut failed two minutes into the October 11 flight, sending their emergency capsule into a sharp fall back to Earth.

After the successful emergency landing both the Russian and USA space agencies praised the Soviet-designed rocket, with Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine saying last month that USA astronauts will continue using the Soyuz and praising its "resilience".

Hague and Ovchinin were due to spend six months on the ISS.

Roscosmos also said that the crew of the ongoing mission may return home on December 20, TASS reported.

Skorobogatov said officials are now taking steps, including putting all assembly staff through competence tests and additional training, to make sure such malfunctions don't happen again.

The current crew working aboard the ISS since June 6 consists of Sergei Prokopyev of Russia, Serena Maria Aunon-Chancellor of the United States, and Alexander Gerst of Germany.

On the rocket destined for the ISS will be Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, and NASA's Anne McClain.

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