Saturday, October 13, 2018

Collision of Elements Blamed for Soyuz MS-10 Launch Abort

The Soyuz rocket is launched with Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Nick Hague of NASA and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. During the Soyuz spacecraft's climb to orbit, an anomaly occurred resulting in an abort downrange. The crew was quickly recovered and was reported in good condition. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Roscosmos has revealed initial results of its investigation into the Soyuz MS-10 launch failure. According to the agency, the emergency abort was caused by a collision of elements during the separation of Soyuz-FG rocket’s first stage.

The Soyuz-FG rocket with Soyuz MS-10 crewed spacecraft atop blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:40 p.m. local time (4:40 a.m. EDT / 8:40 GMT) on October 11. However, about two minutes after liftoff, the launch vehicle experienced an anomaly and in result the launch ascent was aborted. The malfunction forced NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin to conduct a ballistic descent, what ended in a safe landing in the Kazakh steppe.

Russia has set up a state commission to investigate the failed launch. The first meeting of the commission that took place within hours after the mishap resulted in drawing a conclusion that a malfunction during the strap-on booster separation process was responsible for the failure.

Now, new information disclosed by Roscosmos, suggest that one of the four strap-on boosters failed to separate properly and its element apparently struck the rocket’s core stage.

"There are no final versions but the primary cause is understandable and is related to the collision of a side element making part of the first stage. A collision occurred during the separation of the first and second stages," said Sergei Krikalyov, Roscosmos Executive Director for Manned Flights.

Krikalyov added that the collision caused a disintegration of the lower part of the core stage. This accident most likely stopped the rocket’s nominal flight sequence.

The commission is currently in the process of investigating the disintegrated components of the rocket found on the ground. This could be essential for determining the exact cause of Thursday’s failure.

According to Krikalyov, final results of the investigation are expected after October 20. Hence, the opened probe puts all the Soyuz-FG launches on hold as rockets of this class can be authorized for orbital flight again only when the causes of the failure are clear.

Soyuz MS-10 failure could leave International Space Station (ISS) without crew if the investigation is not completed quickly as Soyuz-FG is currently the only booster capable of launching humans to the orbital outpost.

"Theoretically, the ISS can be left without a crew. An unmanned mode is stipulated. We will do everything possible to prevent this because the station was created for manned flights. The procedure to deactivate the station is prescribed but it is undesirable and we will try to avoid it," Krikalyov concluded.


  1. Roscosmos must be congratulated on successfully proving that a safe return to Earth was possible with the Soyuz MS-10 manned spacecraft.
    NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are safe as a result.
    Roscosmos will find the exact cause and therefore lead to further safe launches.

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