Executive Intelligence Review


Soyuz Launch to International Space Station Fails, in a Rare Manned Rocket Incident

Oct. 11, 2018 (EIRNS)—Today at 2:40 p.m. local time (4:40 a.m. EDT, 08:40 UTC), the engine on the rocket launching the Soyuz spacecraft carrying Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and U.S. astronaut Nick Hague to the ISS, had an anomaly just two minutes after its launch from the Baikonur launch complex in Kazakhstan. As designed, the spacecraft separated from the rocket and the crew made a successful emergency landing. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was at Baikonur for the launch, and tweeted that the crew is safe, which is the most important thing.

Malfunctions of Soviet/Russian man-rated boosters are extremely rare. The only similar engine failure was on a launch in April 1975, just three months before the joint Apollo-Soyuz linkup in orbit, space analyst Marcia Smith points out. A launch abort on Sept. 26, 1983 was not an engine failure, but was caused by a Soyuz rocket catching fire just before launch. That crew also escaped unharmed.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, its main criminal investigative agency, has opened a criminal investigation over violations of safety rules, the IC’s press-service has told TASS.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos immediately formed a commission to investigate the technical cause of the failure. This accident comes on the heels of the investigation into the hole mistakenly drilled into the Soyuz capsule that is parked at the ISS, which was covered up after it was drilled. It has not been made public, whether it was a case of sabotage or of incompetence.

The first job of the new Roscosmos commission will be to collect data from telemetry and any debris that is found on the ground. They will also have a unique view of the launch from footage taken by ISS commander, astronaut Alexander Gerst of Germany.

In a rather “in your face” counter to those plotting to impeach President Donald Trump over his determination to have a working relationship with President Vladimir Putin, the American Embassy in Moscow released a statement, which includes the words:

“The extensive joint crew training program, developed thanks to the many years of open cooperation between our countries in the field of space, contributed to the fortunate outcome of this incident.”