Russia: Soyuz launch failed due to assembly problem

International Space Station

International Space Station

According to Sputnik News, Roscosmos executive director Sergei Krikalev said the malfunction was in a sensor that detects separation of the booster's first and second stages.

Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague returned safely back to Earth in their capsule.

The company that produces the Soyuz rockets said, following the incident, that it will conduct a re-testing of its employees and increase the number of cameras monitoring the production process.

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft is launched at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, October 11, 2018.

Krikalyov on Wednesday reiterated Roskosmos's earlier statements saying that the malfunction was caused by a collision of the first and second stages of the rocket during the first stage separation.

The crew landed in the fields of Kazakhstan about 25 kilometers from the city of Dzhezkazgan (a little more than 400 kilometers from Baikonur).

A Russian cosmonaut and US astronaut were forced to abort their mission on October 11 after a rocket bound for the International Space Station failed, sending them plunging back to Earth in an emergency landing.

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

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The Soyuz is now the only rocket that is capable of sending humans to the ISS and a launch failure hasn't happened since 1983.

Skorobogatov, who heads TsNIIMash, a Russian research institute specialising in spacecraft and missile development, said the commission ruled out that the problem happened at a production facility.

A Russian official says an investigation has found that a failed rocket launch three weeks ago was caused by a sensor that was damaged during assembly.

The other was now in Kourou, a space port in French Guiana which Russian Federation uses for commercial launches of satellites, he added.

Roscosmos deputy durector Alexander Lopatin noted Thursday that the October 11 accident caused Roscosmos "reputational damage", but noted such incidents were not unique to Russian cosmonautics, and said that accidents are important lessons which must be learned from.

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 next astronauts heading to the ISS will be Russia's Oleg Kononenko, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and NASA astronaut Anne McClain.

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