Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Failed Soyuz astronauts to fly again

Failed Soyuz astronauts to fly again

USA astronaut Nick Hague, right, and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station wave as they board the rocket prior to the launch. Both are reported to be in "good condition", but the same can not be said for the rocket, which crashed around 40km from the city of Zhezkazgan in the Karaganda Region of Kazakhstan.

Russia, which relies on boosters designed during the Soviet Union, has a reputation for reliability with spacecraft.

Hadfield noted that the launch failure should not be seen as an indictment of the Soyuz rockets, calling mechanical failure part and parcel of space travel.

The probe would seek to determine whether safety regulations had been violated during construction, leading to massive damage, the statement said. Roscosmos has earned billions of dollars in fees ferrying astronauts into orbit since NASA retired its fleet of space shuttles in 2011.

Space is an area of cooperation between the United States and Russian Federation at a time of fraught relations.

Hague, who only joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2013, was on his first space mission. Not that it matters to the US: NASA is now prohibited by Congress from working with the Chinese space agency due to security fears.

Ovchinin spent six months on the station in 2016.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential vote, but Russia and the USA have maintained cooperation in space.

Hague and Ovchinin are replacing NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, as well as Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, who departed ISS and returned to Earth last week. There would be no one on board to monitor and conduct the many scientific experiments now underway on the $US100 billion ($140 billion) outpost. Hadfield said Thursday's developments meant they would know they are "in for the long haul".

The Interfax news agency on Friday cited a source familiar with the Russian investigation as saying that an important valve had failed to open due to a faulty firing cartridge.

"Not every mission that fails, ends up so successful", he said. "We will analyse the causes in detail". In August, a hole appeared in a Soyuz capsule already docked to the ISS that caused a brief loss of air pressure and had to be patched.

The aborted mission dealt another blow to the troubled Russian space program that now serves as the only way to deliver astronauts to the orbiting outpost.

Both NASA and Roscosmos have launched investigations into the matter, while engineers are attempting to find and fix the problem.

But it will need to be staffed again before private space companies SpaceX or Boeing launch their planned manned missions next year, Todd said.

"We're tightening our seatbelts", Ovchinin said on the video. He added that he has "every confidence that our Russian colleagues will figure out what's going on". Hague and Ovchinin are being taken from their emergency landing site to Moscow. That would be autumn in Australia.

All things considered, the Soyuz has proven itself reliable historically and its launch escape system - at various stages of flight - has proven effective three times now. Rogozin is likely trying to save face amid the current embarrassment.

"I hope that the American side will treat it with understanding", he said. NASA wanted to wait a couple of hours to test a solution on Earth but the Russians took it upon themselves to plug the leak and disregarded the American recommendations.

A Canadian astronaut's scheduled trip to the International Space Station is in limbo after the spacecraft he was to use failed and made an emergency landing in Kazakhstan.

"We plan to organize the flight in the spring of next year", Rogozin tweeted.

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