Russian Soyuz Booster Fails During Manned Launch - Crew Safe

#1
A Soyuz with two astronauts aboard (one Russian, one American) aborted their launch after the booster on their Soyuz rocket failed today at 164,000 feet and upwards of 4,000 mph. The capsule that the two were in executed a successful abort separation from the fragmenting booster and made a ballistic descent. Both astronauts are ok and in good health.

Astronauts still have the "right stuff". Russian astronaut Aleksey Ovchinin is reported to have calmly informed the ground: 'An accident with the booster, 2 minutes, 45 seconds. That was a quick flight'.

The Russians aren't happy and have grounded their Soyuz fleet pending an accident inquiry. That's problematic since this vehicle is currently the only way for astronauts to reach the Space Station and orbit more generally. The SpaceX and Boeing manned capsules aren't scheduled to be carrying astronauts until next year sometime. (SpaceX had been scheduled to do their first manned launch in April, but I heard that it's been moved back to June.) Boeing will probably be launching next summer too.

Maybe that schedule can be brought forward.

Otherwise unless the Soyuz boosters return to service quickly, the astronauts currently on the station will have to remain there until replacements arrive (when and if), or else they will have to evacuate, leaving the station empty, using the two Soyuz capsule "lifeboats" that are already up there.

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/astronaut-c...ce-station 

https://www.foxnews.com/science/us-russi...cket-fails

https://www.space.com/42097-soyuz-rocket...-crew.html

A Russian video of the launch is here. The failure is right at the end of the live part, with a view inside the ascending capsule showing the astronauts being violently shaken and then a ground camera shot of the booster fragmenting and coming apart. The capsule executed a successful abort which isn't shown while the video goes to a prepared animation of how things should have gone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_conti...nSoFxIYWSg
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#2
NASA press conference here. Lots of questions answered.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bz5CsIHy...e=youtu.be

They say that the second stage of the Russian booster is what failed, right after stage separation. The crew had almost no warning that anything was wrong, a red light showing 'booster anomaly' went on, then perhaps a second later the Soyuz's automatic abort system kicked in on its own, rocketing the capsule away from the booster. All the shaking in the video in the last post may have been the abort rockets firing. The NASA people said that crews train for that and despite it coming as a surprise, they knew what to do and everything went by the book. They said that despite the accident, the way everything played out kind of increases their confidence in the system, since it proved that the Soyuz abort system is very robust.

The capsule flew in an arcing ballistic trajectory and NASA didn't know where the astronauts would land. But Russian search and rescue are on alert for every launch and scrambled immediately. It turns out that the capsule came down in the Kazakhstan desert not far from where Soyuzes land normally and Russian paratroopers and helicopters were on the ground at the landing site even before the capsule was. So rescuers were there as soon as the capsule was down, aiding in the astronauts' egress. NASA sounded quite impressed by that.

The astronauts were flown back to Baikonur where they launched from. Their families were there to watch the launch and they were reunited. Not only that, but the NASA Administrator and the Director of Roscosmos (the Russian space agency) were there too. The astronauts are being checked out medically (as a precaution, they seem fine), will spend the night at the launch site and fly to Moscow tomorrow.

There are currently only three astronauts on the International Space Station (a woman and two men). They know about the launch failure and are in good spirits. They are scheduled to be there until December and have plenty of supplies, so there's no immediate problem with them. They are rescheduling some of their upcoming tasks, especially a spacewalk, since one of the astronauts in this ill-fated launch was to be one of the spacewalkers.

It turns out that the Soyuz 'lifeboats' at the Space Station won't last forever and have a 'use by' date. They 'expire' in December, though it could be stretched to January. So if the Soyuz isn't returned to service by then, the Space Station will have to be de-crewed. They are already making plans for how to configure the systems for remote control from the ground.

Reporters asked about bringing the commercial crew flights (SpaceX and Boeing) forward, but NASA didn't sound too thrilled with that idea. What's more, they don't want to dock a SpaceX or Boeing capsule with the Space Station for the first time, unless there is crew on the station to observe and control the approach. So crew will need to be delivered by Soyuz before the new capsules try it.

As always, Jonathan McDowell (the 'Jonathan's Space Report' guy) has lots of interesting information you can't find elsewhere.

https://twitter.com/planet4589?ref_src=t...r%5Eauthor

The way the Soyuz booster is configured is that four strap-on boosters surround a central core booster. The strap-on's constitute what passes as the first stage, which come free from the core which continues firing as the second stage.

Jonathan hears from Russian sources that what they think happened is that one of the strap-on's didn't separate properly and crashed into the central core.

(The official investigation hasn't started yet, so that may be premature.)

Anyway, here's what Jonathan is hearing from Russia:

http://planet4589.org/latest.html

Here's a photo of the capsule on the ground in the Kazakhstan desert, from Roscosmos by way of Jonathan's twitter page.


[Image: DpQIGHbVAAA-PTX.jpg]



[Image: index.php?action=dlattach;topic=31790.0;...4701;image]
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#3
(Oct 12, 2018 02:11 AM)Yazata Wrote:
(Oct 12, 2018 02:11 AM)Yazata Wrote: It turns out that the Soyuz 'lifeboats' at the Space Station won't last forever and have a 'use by' date. They 'expire' in December, though it could be stretched to January. So if the Soyuz isn't returned to service by then, the Space Station will have to be de-crewed. They are already making plans for how to configure the systems for remote control from the ground.


Oooooooooo.... The pressure is on!  Big Grin "Don't spare the whip, Sergei!"


~
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#4
Here's some Russian photos showing why some Russians seem to think that what failed was separation of the side boosters.

The top photo shows a past launch, illustrating how it should look. (The characteristic "Korolev cross" as the four side boosters come free).

The bottom photo shows today's staging. The cross appears assymetrical.


[Image: DpOQFqjXcAAPWoD.jpg]



[Image: DpO6qoTU0AA9VBp.jpg]
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#5
Jonathan McDowell reports: "Soyuz MS-11 launch may be as soon as Dec 5, with a Progress launch revalidating the booster in November. Russian return-to-flight reviews are faster than US ones!"

(The Progress is an expendable cargo capsule used, along with SpaceX Dragon 1's and other cargo capsules from Europe and Japan, to deliver supplies to the ISS. The Dragon is the only cargo capsule that can return stuff to Earth.)

https://twitter.com/planet4589/status/10...4266841088

The Russians seem satisfied that this booster failure wasn't an inherent design flaw since their Soyuz boosters have been flying successfully for decades. So they suspect a bad part or something. Identify that, inspect the offending part on the remaining Soyuz's, and off they go. So they seem very optimistic. The schedule Jonathan outlines doesn't involve much delay at all. (Maybe it's Elon Musk-style "aspirational", indicating what they would like to do.)

Jonathan seems to have gotten his information from this Russian news story, which in true "journalistic" style is once again based on anonymous sources.:

https://ria.ru/space/20181012/1530581752.html

It's in Russian, put it in Google Translate.
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#6
(Oct 12, 2018 02:11 AM)Yazata Wrote: NASA press conference here. Lots of questions answered.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bz5CsIHy...e=youtu.be

They say that the second stage of the Russian booster is what failed, right after stage separation. The crew had almost no warning that anything was wrong, a red light showing 'booster anomaly' went on, then perhaps a second later the Soyuz's automatic abort system kicked in on its own, rocketing the capsule away from the booster. All the shaking in the video in the last post may have been the abort rockets firing. The NASA people said that crews train for that and despite it coming as a surprise, they knew what to do and everything went by the book. They said that despite the accident, the way everything played out kind of increases their confidence in the system, since it proved that the Soyuz abort system is very robust.

The capsule flew in an arcing ballistic trajectory and NASA didn't know where the astronauts would land. But Russian search and rescue are on alert for every launch and scrambled immediately. It turns out that the capsule came down in the Kazakhstan desert not far from where Soyuzes land normally and Russian paratroopers and helicopters were on the ground at the landing site  even before the capsule was. So rescuers were there as soon as the capsule was down, aiding in the astronauts' egress. NASA sounded quite impressed by that.

The astronauts were flown back to Baikonur where they launched from. Their families were there to watch the launch and they were reunited. Not only that, but the NASA Administrator and the Director of Roscosmos (the Russian space agency) were there too. The astronauts are being checked out medically (as a precaution, they seem fine), will spend the night at the launch site and fly to Moscow tomorrow.

There are currently only three astronauts on the International Space Station (a woman and two men). They know about the launch failure and are in good spirits. They are scheduled to be there until December and have plenty of supplies, so there's no immediate problem with them. They are rescheduling some of their upcoming tasks, especially a spacewalk, since one of the astronauts in this ill-fated launch was to be one of the spacewalkers.

It turns out that the Soyuz 'lifeboats' at the Space Station won't last forever and have a 'use by' date. They 'expire' in December, though it could be stretched to January. So if the Soyuz isn't returned to service by then, the Space Station will have to be de-crewed. They are already making plans for how to configure the systems for remote control from the ground.

Reporters asked about bringing the commercial crew flights (SpaceX and Boeing) forward, but NASA didn't sound too thrilled with that idea. What's more, they don't want to dock a SpaceX or Boeing capsule with the Space Station for the first time, unless there is crew on the station to observe and control the approach. So crew will need to be delivered by Soyuz before the new capsules try it.

As always, Jonathan McDowell (the 'Jonathan's Space Report' guy) has lots of interesting information you can't find elsewhere.

https://twitter.com/planet4589?ref_src=t...r%5Eauthor

The way the Soyuz booster is configured is that four strap-on boosters surround a central core booster. The strap-on's constitute what passes as the first stage, which come free from the core which continues firing as the second stage.

Jonathan hears from Russian sources that what they think happened is that one of the strap-on's didn't separate properly and crashed into the central core.

(The official investigation hasn't started yet, so that may be premature.)

Anyway, here's what Jonathan is hearing from Russia:

http://planet4589.org/latest.html

Here's a photo of the capsule on the ground in the Kazakhstan desert, from Roscosmos by way of Jonathan's twitter page.


[Image: DpQIGHbVAAA-PTX.jpg]



[Image: index.php?action=dlattach;topic=31790.0;...4701;image]

Quote:It turns out that the Soyuz 'lifeboats' at the Space Station won't last forever and have a 'use by' date. They 'expire' in December, though it could be stretched to January. So if the Soyuz isn't returned to service by then, the Space Station will have to be de-crewed. They are already making plans for how to configure the systems for remote control from the ground.

it sure is a funny thing, while technology has made a lot more possible, it has made things vastly more safe.
yet, it also increases the ability to not need the risk of human life.
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#7
Damn, that was fast.

The Russians have concluded their accident investigation (which would have taken many months in the US) and have concluded that a sensor on one of the side boosters was deformed when the vehicle was assembled in Kazakhstan. So presumably it couldn't initiate whatever the booster does to distance itself from the central core booster. The misbehaving side booster instead struck the core booster and threw everything off, initiating the automatic abort system.

https://www.rferl.org/a/rocket-failure-c...76902.html

It looks like an unmanned (Soyuz booster, Progress capsule) supply flight to the ISS originally scheduled for October 31, has been moved back to November 16.

The next manned launch (Soyuz booster, Soyuz capsule) is on for December 3.

So it looks like they aren't going to have to evacuate the space station after all.
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#8
(Nov 3, 2018 07:25 PM)Yazata Wrote: Damn, that was fast.


Nice to know that some standards still linger from the old Soviet days: "Damn the safeguards and bureaucracy, full speed ahead!". A sailor was always overjoyed to wind-up as a crewman on the old nuclear-powered submarines, getting to sample some of that messy containment of radioactivity.

~
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#9
Jonathan McDowell says that a Soyuz booster has already flown since the accident, launched from Plesetsk (in the subarctic taiga forests, ~ 500 miles north of Moscow) on October 25, successfully carrying a Russian Lotos-S Sigint (signals intelligence) spy satellite. (In old Soviet style, they continue to give their military satellites fake civilian cover-names, this one is officially 'Kosmos 2528'.)

http://planet4589.org/latest.html

What's more, he's just added today that another Soyuz booster successfully launched a Russian GLONASS navigation satellite (Russia's answer to our GPS system) from Plesetsk today, Saturday Nov 3. This is the second Soyuz booster launch since the accident.

So they are definitely back in action. The satellite launches are good tests that all the kinks are ironed out before humans go up in a month.
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#10
The November 16 unmanned supply launch referred to above has happened on schedule. A Soyuz booster just successfully launched a Progress supply capsule destined for the International Space Station.

Here's the vehicle that went today in the assembly building. (Roskosmos photo)


[Image: 6224719252-768x512.jpg]
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