Space duo crash land

Space sta­tion pro­gram in tur­moil af­ter rocket fail­ure

Geelong Advertiser - - WORLD -

A RUS­SIAN Soyuz rocket car­ry­ing two crew mem­bers made an emer­gency land­ing on Thurs­day night af­ter suf­fer­ing a booster mal­func­tion dur­ing launch in Kaza­khstan.

Rus­sian Roscos­mos space agency and NASA said the three-stage Soyuz booster suf­fered an emer­gency shut­down of its sec­ond stage.

The rocket was car­ry­ing a Rus­sian cos­mo­naut and an Amer­i­can as­tro­naut who had set off for a six-month mis­sion at the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion, on a rel­a­tively rare twoman launch.

NASA rookie Nick Hague and Roscosmo sec­ond-time flyer Alek­sey Ov­chinin blasted off for the or­bital lab from the Baikonur cos­mod­rome in Kaza­khstan as sched­uled.

The launch fail­ure marks an un­prece­dented mishap for the Rus­sian space pro­gram, which has been dogged by a string of launch fail­ures and other in­ci­dents.

Nei­ther the United States nor Rus­sia will be able to send as­tro­nauts to the ISS un­til in­ves­ti­ga­tors de­ter­mine why the Soyuz rocket failed af­ter blastoff, com­pli­cat­ing an al­ready tricky launch cal­en­dar for 2019. The only way to get as- tro­nauts from Earth to the ISS since 2011 has been aboard Rus­sian Soyuz rock­ets.

But Roscos­mos has grounded the rock­ets un­til a probe into what caused the anom­aly that forced Hague and Ov­chinin to make the emer­gency land­ing con­cludes.

The next Soyuz launch for the ISS was sched­uled for De­cem­ber 20, and it is sup­posed to take a new three-per­son crew to the space sta­tion.

But it’s not clear how long it will be grounded.

“If it’s two months or six, I re­ally can’t spec­u­late on that,” In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion op­er­a­tions in­te­gra­tion man­ager Kenny Todd said.

“They’re prob­a­bly go­ing to ground the Soyuz rock­ets for a while,” said Erik Seed­house, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at Em­bryRid­dle Aero­nau­ti­cal Uni­ver­sity.

How­ever, the Thurs­day case in­volved a manned ve­hi­cle, “so there’s much stricter re­quire­ments in in­ves­ti­ga­tions”, Mr Seed­house said.

The Euro­pean Space Agency has al­ready ac­knowl­edged that the in­ci­dent will af­fect the ISS cal­en­dar.

TAKE­OFF: The Rus­sian Soyuz rocket blasts away and the crew in the emer­gency land­ing. Be­low: The Soyuz MS-10 space cap­sule in a field.

Rus­sian cos­mo­naut Alek­sey Ov­chinin and Amer­i­can as­tro­naut Nick Hague.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.