Roscosmos Identifies Cause of Launch Failure, Sets Dates for Next ISS Flights

Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, left, and Flight Engineer Nick Hague of NASA, right. embrace their families after landing at the Krayniy Airport, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The abort of a crewed Soyuz launch to the International Space Station last month was caused by a damaged sensor pin in a mechanism designed to separate one of the rocket’s four strap-on boosters from the core stage, Roscosmos has announced.

“The abnormal separation was caused by the non-opening of the lid of the nozzle intended to separate a side Block D oxidizer tank due to the deformation of the separation sensor pin,” the space corporation said in a press release. “It was damaged during the assembling of the strap-on boosters with the core stage (the Packet) at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The LV [launch vehicle] failure cause is of the operational nature and spreads to the stock of already assembled packets of the Soyuz rocket.”

Oleg Skorobogatov, who headed up the investigation, said at a press conference that the nose of the strap-on booster hit the core stage in the area of the fuel tank, resulting in a decompression that triggered the abort. Skorobogatov is deputy director general of TsNIImash.

Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague landed safely under parachute in their MS-10 Soyuz spacecraft. Neither one was injured.

“The Emergency Crew Rescue System of Soyuz MS-10 spaceship functioned properly,” Roscosmos said in its press statement. “The crew was acting as required by the on-board instructions and those given by the Mission Control Center.”

Roscosmos has taken steps to prevent a recurrence of the incident and approved a plan to resume launches to the space station.

“The State Committee has approved the launch dates under the International Space Station Program as follows: the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket with Progress MS −10 cargo spaceship to go on November 16, 2018, and the launch of Soyuz MS-11 manned spaceship to go on December 3, 2018. The crew of Soyuz MS-09 — Alexander Gerst (ESA), Sergey Prokopiev (Roscosmos) and Serina Auñón-Chensellor (NASA) — will return to the Earth on December 20, 2018,” the corporation said.

Supervisory Board Approves New Roscosmos Structure

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The Supervisory Board of Roskosmos approved the new structure of the State Corporation and the composition of the Board, and also appointed new deputy general directors.

On October 26, the first meeting of the Supervisory Board of the Roscosmos State Corporation was held in a new composition, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Yury Ivanovich Borisov. The main issue was the approval of the new structure of the State Corporation and the appointment of deputy general managers.

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Soyuz Rocket Launches Russian Military Satellite

PLESETSK, Russia (Roscosmos PR) — On Thursday, October 25, at 0315 hours Moscow time, the State Space Test Center Plesetsk in the Arkhangelsk Region was successfully launched by the Soyuz-2.1b medium-class launch vehicle with a spacecraft in the interests of the Russian Defense Ministry.

The launch was carried out by a joint calculation of Roskosmos specialists, enterprises of the rocket and space industry and the Ministry of Defense of Russia under the general leadership of the Commander of the Space Forces, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Aerospace Forces, Colonel-General Alexander Golovko. The launch of the carrier rocket and the launching of the spacecraft into the calculated orbit took place in the normal mode.

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National Space Council Approves Measures to Advance Space Force

Mike Pence

The National Space Council today approved six recommendations to the president concerning the establishment of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Services.

The six recommendations presented include:

  • Forming a United States Space Command to control our space forces and develop the tactics, techniques, and procedures for military space operations.
  • Establishing the Space Force as a separate and distinct branch of the military whose mission will be to organize, train, and equip combat space forces.
  • Calling on Congress to authorize the establishment of a Space Force and provide funding for the United States Space Command.
  • Launching a joint review by the National Space Council and National Security Council of existing space operational authorities for meeting national security objectives, informed by DOD’s assessment of the authorities required.
  • Creating a Space Development Agency to ensure Americans in the Space Force have cutting-edge warfighting capabilities.
  • Creating collaborative mechanisms with the Intelligence Community to improve unity of efforts for the development of space capabilities and operations.

The approvals came after the council, which is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, heard from three experts who said that establishing an independent Space Force was essential to meeting the growing threats posed to the United States by foreign adversaries.

The White House also published a press release today outlining plans for the Space Force.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine gave an update on the investigation into the aborted launch of a crew flight to the International Space Station. He said he was confident that Russia will have resolved the problem in time to launch a new crew to the International Space Station in December as planned.

Roscosmos to Wrap Up Soyuz Abort Investigation Next Week

Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, left, and Flight Engineer Nick Hague of NASA, right. embrace their families after landing at the Krayniy Airport, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

TASS reports that Roscosmos will have a final report on the abort of a Soyuz crew launch to the International Space Station on Oct. 30.  Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague parachuted to safety aboard their Soyuz MS-10 capsule.

“Having listened to reports of the experts investigating causes of the emergency, members of the emergency commission have approved, after a detailed examination, a draft report on causes of the incident and begun drawing up recommendations to prevent similar situations in the future,” the statement says.

“The final report and list of recommendations for the space industry enterprises will be approved on October 30, 2018 and will be submitted to chairperson of the State Commission for Flight Tests of Manned Space Complexes,” it says.

Following a smooth liftoff, the Soyuz’s booster malfunctioned between the first and second stages of separating, whereupon the crew was forced to abort the flight and switch to ballistic descent. The manned Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft ended up landing in the Kazakh steppe. The Soyuz MS-10 crew were not hurt.

Video of the flight indicates that one of four strap-on boosters that form the first stage failed to separate properly from the core booster. Media reports the booster might have been improperly installed.

Mr. Rogozin Goes to Washington

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin will be paying a visit to the United States at a date TBD, The Moscow Times reports.

The White House has temporarily lifted an entry ban imposed on the head of Russia’s federal space agency to allow him to visit the United States, the head of NASA has said in an interview with Russian media.

The U.S. banned entry to and froze the assets of ex-Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, along with other officials it blames for Moscow’s seizure of the Crimean peninsula in March 2014. Rogozin, 54, oversaw Russia’s powerful arms industry before he was appointed to head the Roscosmos state space agency earlier this year.

Rogozin will now be able to travel to the U.S. under a workaround that removes the sanctions for the duration of his visit, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told the state-run TASS news agency Friday.

Failures Continue to Haunt the Russian Space Program

A Proton takes a nose dive at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

The Soviet & Russian space programs have traditionally had a high launch rate, which also resulted in a fair number of partial and complete failures. For the past 30 years, the program has experienced 61 incidents or an average of about two per year. The current string of annual failures stretches back to 2004.

The chart below chronicles the partial and complete failures experienced over the last three decades. (Note: Some of the incidents involve Zenit boosters produced by former Soviet factories in Ukraine. These rockets usually fly with Russian-produced upper stages. Dnepr was also a joint program with Ukraine.)

SOVIET-RUSSIAN LAUNCH FAILURES, 1988 – 2018
NO.DATE LAUNCH VEHICLE
PAYLOAD(S)
RESULTCAUSE
1January 18, 1988Proton-K Blok-DM-2Gorizont 25LFailureThird stage failure due to disintegration of propellant feed line
2February 17, 1988Proton-K Blok-DM-2Uragan #23, Uragan #24, Uragan #25Partial FailureBlok D failure caused by ingestion of debris
3July 09, 1988Soyuz-UYantar-4KS1 #10Failure
4July 27, 1988Soyuz-UResurs-F1FailureFirst stage engine failure.
5November 11, 1988Soyuz-UYantar-4KS1 #11Failure
6June 9, 1989Tsiklon-3Okean-O1 #4Failure
7April 3, 1990Soyuz-UYantar-4K2 #51Failure
8June 21, 1990Molniya-M (Blok-2BL)Kosmos 2084Partial FailurePlaced in an incorrect orbit. Satellite did not communicate with ground
9July 3, 1990Soyuz-UYantar-4K2 #53Failure
10.August 9, 1990Proton-K Blok-DM-2Ekran-M 14LFailureThird stage lost thrust due to a cleaning rag inside propellant feed system
11October 4, 1990Zenit-2Tselina-2 #8FailureFirst stage engine failure five seconds after launch.
12June 25, 1991Kosmos-3MTaifun-2 #26FailureSecond stage malfunction
13August 30, 1991Zenit-2Tselina-2 #9FailureSecond stage explosion
14February 5, 1992Zenit-2Tselina-2 #10FailureSecond stage failure
15May 27, 1993Proton-K Blok-DM-2Gorizont 39LFailureThird stage failure
16May 25, 1994Tsiklon-3Tselina-D #69FailureSoftware error prevented third stage separation
17March 28, 1995StartGurwin 1, EKV, OSCAR 29FailureFailed to orbit, crashed into the Sea of Okhotsk
18October 6, 1995Kosmos-3MKosmos 2321 (Parus #84)Partial FailureSecond stage malfunction, placed in useless orbit
19February 19, 1996Proton-K Blok-DM-2Raduga 33Partial FailureBlok-DM-2 upper stage failed to restart to circularize orbit
20May 14, 1996Soyuz-UYantar-1KFT #18FailurePayload fairing disintegrated in flight
21June 20, 1996Soyuz-UYantar-4K2 #76FailurePayload fairing disintegrated in flight
22November 16, 1996Proton-K Blok-D-2Mars ’96Partial FailureProbe re-entered atmosphere after fourth stage failure
23May 20, 1997Zenit-2Tselina-2 #19FailureFirst stage failure
24December 24, 1997Proton-K Blok-DM3AsiaSat 3Partial FailureFourth stage malfunction prevented satellite from reaching geosynchronous orbit; salvaged with lunar flyby
25June 15, 1998Tsiklon-3Strela-3 #119, Strela-3 #120, Strela-3 #121, Strela-3 #122, Strela-3 #123, Strela-3 #124Partial FailureThird stage malfunction left satellites in unintended elliptical orbit
26September 09, 1998Zenit-2Globalstar 5, Globalstar 7, Globalstar 9, Globalstar 10, Globalstar 11, Globalstar 12, Globalstar 13, Globalstar 16, Globalstar 17, Globalstar 18, Globalstar 20, Globalstar 21FailureSecond stage shut down after guidance system failed
27July 05, 1999Proton-K Briz-MRaduga (34) (Gran 45L)FailureSecond stage failure
28October 27, 1999Proton-K Blok-DM-2MEkspress-A 1FailureSecond stage failure
29December 24, 1999Rokot-KRVSN 40FailureStage-separation fired before launch
30November 20, 2000Kosmos-3MQuickBird 1 (QB 1)FailureSecond stage failed to ignite
31December 27, 2000Tsiklon-3Gonets 7, Gonets 8, Gonets 9, Strela-3 #125, Strela-3 #126, Strela-3 #127FailureThird stage failure
32October 15, 2002Soyuz-UFoton-M 1FailureFirst stage exploded seconds after launch
33November 25, 2002Proton-K Blok-DM3Astra 1KFailureBlok-DM3 left satellite in unusable orbit; spacecraft de-orbited 15 days after launch
34Dec. 24, 2004Tsiklon-3Sich 1M, Micron 1Partial FailureBooster failed to circularize orbit
35June 21, 2005Molniya-M Blok-MLMolniya-3KFailureThird stage failure
36June 21, 2005Volna-OCosmos 1FailureCosmos Studios/The Planetary Society solar sail satellite failed to separate from booster third stage
37August 10, 2005Rokot Briz-KMCryosatFailureSecond stage failure; crashed in Arctic Ocean north of Greenland
38February 28, 2006Proton-M Briz-MArabsat 4A (Badr 1)FailureFailed to reach usable orbit; de-orbited 24 days after launch
39July 26, 2006DneprBelKa 1, Baumanets 1, Unisat 4, PicPot, CP 1, CP 2, HAUSAT 1, ICECube 1, ICECube 2, ION, KUTESat-Pathfinder, Mea Huaka’i, MEROPE, Ncube 1, Rincon 1, SACRED SEEDS, AeroCube 1FailureEngine failure
40Sept. 5, 2007Proton-M/Briz-MJCSat 11FailureSecond stage failure; booster and payload crashed in Kazakhstan
41March 14, 2008Proton-M/Briz-MAMC 14Partial FailureBriz-M upper stage shut down 2 minutes early. Owner SES Americom declared satellite a complete loss. AMC 14 sold to US Department of Defense which manuevered into geosynchronous orbit using on-board thrusters.
42May 21, 2009Soyuz-2.1a/ FregatMeridian 2FailureSecond stage shut down early, Fregat upper stage ran out of fuel trying to compensate. Satellite left in useless orbit, declared a loss by Russian military.
43Dec. 5, 2010Proton-M/ Blok-DM-3Uragan-M #739, Uragan-M #740, Uragan-M #741FailureRocket failed to reach orbital velocity after upper stage overfilled with propellant.
44Feb. 1, 2011Rokot/Briz-KMGeo-IK-2 No. 11FailureUpper stage malfunction.
45Aug. 17, 2011Proton-M/ Briz-MEkspress AM4
FailureBriz-M upper stage suffered failure of attitude control.
46Aug. 24, 2011Soyuz-UProgress M-12FailureThird stage failure due to turbo-pump duct blockage.
47Nov. 8, 2011Zenit-2SB/ FregatPhobos-Grunt
Yinghuo-1
FailureZenit placed Phobos-Grunt in proper orbit. Spacecraft stranded in Earth orbit after Fregat failed to fire.
48Dec. 23, 2011Soyuz-2.1b/ FregatMeridian 5FailureThird stage failure.
49Aug. 6, 2012Proton-M/ Briz-MTelkom-3, Ekspress MD2FailureBriz-M upper stage failed 7 seconds into its third burn.
50Dec. 8, 2012Proton-M/ Briz-MYamal-402Partial FailureBriz-M upper stage shut down 4 minutes earlier than planned on fourth burn. Spacecraft reached intended orbit under own power.
51Jan. 15, 2013Rokot/Briz-KMKosmos 2482, Kosmos 2483, Kosmos 2484Partial FailureUpper stage failed near time of spacecraft separation; one satellite destroyed.
52Feb. 1, 2013Zenit-3SL (Sea Launch)
Intelsat 27FailureFirst stage failure.
53July 2, 2013Proton-M/DM-03Uragan-M #748, Uragan-M #749,
Uragan-M #750
FailureFirst stage failure.
54May 15, 2014Proton-M/Briz-MEkspress AM4RFailureProton third stage vernier engine failure due to turbo-pump leak.
55Aug. 14, 2014Soyuz-STB/ FregatGalileo FOC-1, Galileo FOC-2Partial FailureSatellites placed in wrong orbits due to freezing of hydrazine in Fregat upper stage. Satellites made operational as part of Europe’s Galileo navigation constellation.
56April 28, 2015Soyuz-2.1aProgress 59PFailureThird stage failure left Progress in uncontrollable tumble.
57May 16, 2015Proton/Briz-MMexSat-1FailureThird stage failure anomaly.
58December 5, 2015Soyuz-2.1v/ VolgaKanopus ST
KYuA 1
Partial FailurePrimary payload Kanopus ST remained attached to upper stage, later burned up in atmosphere. Secondary payload KYuA 1 deployed successfully.
59December 1, 2016Soyuz UProgress MS-04FailureThird stage failure. Progress supply ship burned up in atmosphere.
60November 28, 2017Soyuz 2-1bMeteor-M 2-1, 18 CubeSatsFailureFregat upper stage failure.
61October 11, 2018Soyuz FGSoyuz MS-10FailureLaunch anomaly resulted in emergency landing for two-member crew

Rogozin Accuses Musk of Price Dumping

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Although praising Elon Musk as “a talented engineer and an outstanding promoter,” Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin last week accused the American billionaire of selling launch vehicles at below-market prices in order to squeeze out Russian providers.

“If you compare the price Musk sells his rockets to Pentagon at and the price he quotes for them on the market, you will see that this is nothing but pure dumping. In order to drive Russia from the market he sells launches at 40 to 60 million dollars while being paid 150 million for a launch by Pentagon,” he told Russia’s TV Channel One.

SpaceX officials have said that U.S. government launches require additional tasks that drive up the cost.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Glavkosmos Launch Services announced last week that it charges $48.5 million for a Soyuz 2.1 booster with a Fregat upper stage. A launch without the Fregat is priced at $35 million.

Both prices are below the amount SpaceX charges for satellite launches. The Falcon 9 is capable of orbiting larger payloads than the Soyuz 2.

Russia Expresses Lunar Gateway Doubts, Ponders Joint Lunar Surface Base with China

The space station formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway (Credit: NASA)

Russian officials are expressing doubts about the American-led Lunar Gateway — which would orbit the moon — while deepening cooperation with China on deep-space exploration projects that could include a crewed base on the surface of Earth’s closest neighbor.

SpaceNews reports that Dmitri Loskutov, head of Roscosmos’ international cooperation department, laid out a series of concerns during a panel discussion last week at the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany.

“For the moment, it looks like it is an American program with international participation,” he said. “How will this cooperation be managed? Will there be some sort of international administrative body? Will its principles remain those that are now valid for the International Space Station, in terms of consensus in decision-making?”

“For the moment, all the decisions are made by NASA. It seems U.S. standards will be imposed,” he said. “For Roscosmos and the Russian Federation, limited participation is not that interesting.”

Loskutov’s boss, Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin, was in China the week before for joint discussions on a range of cooperative projects.

“As a result of the meeting, a Protocol was signed, according to which the Parties will take further steps to bring their positions closer within the framework of implementing joint projects on launch vehicles and rocket engines, on exploration of the Moon and deep space, remote sensing of the Earth, satellite navigation, creation of an electronic component base for space purposes, low-orbit mobile communication system and space debris monitoring,” according to a Roscosmos press release.

Tass quoted Rogozin as saying the project could include a base on the lunar surface.

“China is a serious partner. I don’t rule out that as soon as we agree the outlines of our lunar program with the Americans, it is our manned lunar program, the formation of a research station on Moon’s surface is likely to be carried out with our Chinese partners. They can be equal partners already in the coming years,” he told Russia’s TV Channel One.

Space Station Crew Returns Safely to Earth

Three members of the Expedition 56 crew, NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, returned to Earth after months abroad the International Space Station and landed safely at 7:44 a.m. EDT (5:44 p.m. in Kazakhstan) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. (Credits: NASA)

DZHEZKAZGAN, Kazakhstan. (NASA PR) — Three members of the Expedition 56 crew returned safely to Earth Thursday from the International Space Station, where they spent months providing hands-on support for scientific research in low-Earth orbit, working to keep the orbiting laboratory fully operational, and performing three spacewalks.

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NASA Statement on International Space Station Leak Investigation

International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Below is NASA’s statement about the International Space Station Leak Investigation:

On Aug. 29, 2018 a small hole was discovered on the International Space Station. This resulted in a pressure leak. The hole has been identified and fixed by space station crew.

Russian media recently reported that General Director Rogozin said the hole was not a manufacturing defect. Ruling out a manufacturing defect indicates that this is an isolated issue which does not categorically affect future production.

This conclusion does not necessarily mean the hole was created intentionally or with mal-intent. NASA and Roscosmos are both investigating the incident to determine the cause. The International Space Station Program is tentatively planning a spacewalk in November to gather more information.

On October 11, American Astronaut Nick Hague and Russian Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin will launch to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Administrator Bridenstine is scheduled to attend the launch and plans to meet with Mr. Rogozin. This will be their first in-person meeting. They had a telephone call on September 12 during which they discussed the International Space Station leak.

For more information about the ISS, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/station

Russia, India Negotiate on Human Spaceflight Cooperation

Translated from Russian using Google Translate

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On September 25, 2018, the delegation of the Roskosmos State Corporation headed by Dmitry Rogozin met with representatives of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

The main topics of negotiations between the two space organizations were: joint work within the framework of manned space programs, where the Russian side is ready to offer its significant achievements and partnership, as well as possible joint initiatives in the areas of satellite navigation.

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Rogozin: Russia Won’t Play Second Fiddle on Lunar Gateway

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin does not appear to be a fan of the planned Lunar Gateway.

During his meeting with young people, Rogozin said that a lunar program was the peak of the world space powers’ scientific efforts.

“The United States is developing their program called Deep Space Gateway. They have been suggesting our participation in that program, but believe it is theirs,” Rogozin said. “It is such a great American national program but everybody must take part in it.”

Rogozin said he did not like the idea “very much”, since “Russia simply cannot afford to take a back seat in foreign projects” and added that Russia was developing “its own transport system.”

The remarks caused some consternation that Russia was going to pull out of the NASA-led international venture. Roscosmos Spokesman Vladimir Ustimenko denied the report, saying talks remain underway on Russia’s participation in the project.

ExoMars Highlights Radiation Risk for Mars Astronauts

ExoMars orbiter and rover (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

BERLIN, Germany (ESA PR) — Astronauts on a mission to Mars would be exposed to at least 60% of the total radiation dose limit recommended for their career during the journey itself to and from the Red Planet, according to data from the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter being presented at the European Planetary Science Congress, EPSC, in Berlin, Germany, this week.

The orbiter’s camera team are also presenting new images of Mars during the meeting. They will also highlight the challenges faced from the recent dust storm that engulfed the entire planet, preventing high-quality imaging of the surface.
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