Early Monday morning, a crew of three astronauts will be launched to the international space station on a Russian Soyuz…
Early Monday morning, a crew of three astronauts will be launched to the international space station on a Russian Soyuz rocket – the first time people will ride Soyuz after the car broke off halfway in October with two passengers on board. Following an investigation, Russia claims that he has identified and remedied the problem that led to the failure and considered the rocket ready to carry people again.
Soyuz has launched four times successfully since the accident. However, it has only been launched once in the same configuration as Soyuz, which failed, a version of the rocket called Soyuz FG. The launch in November was a success, and put a Russian load capsule called Progress in the course. The flight paved the way for Monday’s mission, when Soyuz FG will prove if it’s safe for human space fly again.
Before the failure, Soyuz FG had a 1
00 percent success assessment since its launch in 2001. But on October 11, the vehicle led a catastrophic anomaly with two riders on board – NASA astronaut Nick Haag and the Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin. Just two and a half minutes after Soyuz traveled from Kazakhstan, the rocket broke 31 miles up. The fault immediately gave rise to the vehicle’s emergency failure system, which causes the capsule carrying the crew to be separated from the rocket. The hairstyle then performed a ballistic descent – when the vehicle falls to the ground at a much brighter angle than normal. After pulling 6.7 Gs or 6.7 times drawn by the earth’s gravity, The Hague and Ovchinin both landed safely back to earth.
Movies of the launch clearly showed that something went wrong during the first stage separation when the rocket throws pieces of hardware in flight. Normally, Soyuz has four boosters that surround its main core that differ in a cross-like configuration during flight. Instead, one of the four boosters came in contact with the center core, which led to the Soyuz splitting.
Russia’s state-owned space company Roscosmos has since detected errors on a deformed sensor that is responsible for signalizing the scenes to separate. The sensor was clearly damaged during assembly, and Roscosmos found that another two Soyuz rockets could have had the same defect. But the company says that the problem since then has been fixed and would not affect future missions.
Since The Hague and Ovchinin did not make it to the ISS as planned, Roscosmos moved today’s flight to ensure that the station did not have a shortage of crew members for a long time. Originally, this flight – which will carry the NASA astronaut Anne McClain, the Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and the Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko – will start on December 20th to join The Hague and Ovchinin. In this way, they would replace the current three people aboard the ISS – NASA astronaut Serena Auñón chancellor, German astronaut Alexander Gerst and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev – who were to leave in mid December. But in this way, the new crew will arrive before the current crew leaves.
And that means that if everything goes well with this flight, NASA does not need to maintain the possibility of an empty space station. The current crew of ISS arrived at ISS in early June in a Soyuz capsule. Soyuz has a limited life in circulation, which lasts only 200 days in space before it needs to come back. If a new crew does not make it to the space station before the end of December, either an empty Soyuz would need to be launched to ISS to extend the day’s herd – or the crew would have to come home and leave the station empty.
At the moment, these scenarios are not likely to become reality yet. And McClain, who will make her first trip to space, says she “has confidence” to ride on Soyuz shortly after the failure and told Houston Chronicle that “no one would give the green light to fly, “If the problem was not resolved.
Soyuz is slated for start at 6:31 AM ET out of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA plans to provide live coverage of the mission starting at 5:30 ET. When Soyuz gets out, it’s slated to dock with ISS at 12:35 ET.