Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Roscosmos Determines the Cause of Progress Cargo Craft Failure

Soyuz-2.1a launch with Progress M-27M spacecraft on Apr. 28, 2015. Credit: Roscosmos

Roscosmos revealed on Monday the results of the state commission’s investigation into the Apr. 28 accident with Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket and Progress M-27M spacecraft. The space agency said the failure lies in the peculiarity in the joint use of the cargo craft and the carrier rocket. "A design peculiarity in the joint use of the spaceship and the rocket related to the frequency-dynamic characteristics of the linkage between the spaceship and the rocket’s third stage is the cause for the damage done to the spaceship as a result of the emergency separation of the carrier rocket’s third stage and the transport spacecraft," Roscosmos said.

According to the commission, this construction peculiarity was not duly taken into account in the process of the design and tests of the rocket and space complex. Roscosmos is now developing a plan of the complex’s further flight tests.

No exact details were given by the agency with respect to the design peculiarity associated with the frequency oscillations observed within the separation mechanism. No direct explanation was provided for the deviation of the third stage shutdown time and the higher than planned apogee of the insertion orbit.

Roscosmos also announced that it will update on June 9 the schedule of manned and cargo spacecraft launches for 2015.

On Apr. 28, the Soyuz-2.1a rocket with the Progress M-27M lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. However, the rocket failed to put the cargo ship into a designated orbit and Russia’s Mission Control lost communications with the space freighter that was intended to deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). A total of six attempts to communicate with the spacecraft were made during the day, and all failed.

On May 8, the spacecraft burnt up in the dense layers of the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

Initially, the cause of the failure was determined to be the depressurization of tanks on the third stage leading to an improper separation of the spacecraft.

The next cargo craft to the ISS, Progress M-28M, is scheduled to be launched on July 3.

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