Sensor failure led to Soyuz launch failure, says Roscosmos

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Roscosmos officials explained that a malfunctioning sensor led to an issue with the separation between the two rocket stages, causing one piece of the rocket to fail to separate fully, sending the rocket into a spin and prompting the instant abort.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin safely aborted the mission-bound for the International Space Station-descending to Earth in a capsule and landing near the Kazakh city of Dzhezkazgan.

Presenting the findings of an official investigation into the accident, Igor Skorobogatov told reporters that two more Soyuz rockets may have the same defect and that additional checks were being introduced into the rocket assembly process.

Russian officials believe the component was damaged during assembly.

The rocket producer will also take apart two other rockets which have been recently assembled and are due to launch in the coming weeks and then reassemble them, Skorogobatov said.

Russian rockets are manufactured in Russia and then transported by rail to the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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The incident, triggered by a mechanical failure, forced two astronauts to abandon ship shortly after launching from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz is now the only rocket that is capable of sending humans to the ISS and a launch failure hasn't happened since 1983. Skorobogatov said the Soyuz's central block was hit "in the fuel tank area, causing a depressurization and, as a result, a loss of the space rocket's stabilization".

Roscosmos officials on Wednesday met with their counterparts from NASA to give them a full briefing on the malfunction, Roscosmos director general Dmitry Rogozin said Thursday.

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft is now the only vehicle for ferrying crews to the International Space Station after the US space shuttle fleet retired.

Russian space officials plan to conduct one more unmanned Soyuz launch from Russia and one overseas before launching a crew to the space station.

Russian Federation is the only country now able to send astronauts to the International Space Station, and the accident caused it to suspend all launches until getting to the bottom of the rare failed manned launch. The U.S. companies SpaceX and Boeing are developing astronaut taxis under multibillion-dollar NASA contracts, and both vehicles are scheduled to make their first crewed test flights in the middle of next year.