Russian Space Agency Has Lead in Rocket Crash
According to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass, the Russian space agency has determined what caused the crash of an automated Progress resupply ships en route to the International Space Station. If true, this could head off a scenario in which the ISS would have to be unmanned due to the limited 200 day rating on the Soyuz spaceships currently docked at the station.
The Russian article states that the committee assigned to investigating the crash has determined that a malfunction in the rocket’s third engine caused the crash. Specifically, a fault with the engine’s gas generator. This is fast work, especially considered that the committee was formed only four days ago. However, the article does not say if the problem has been resolved in future rocket launches.
Despite these recent problems, the Universe Today notes that Russian rockets have an otherwise sterling launch record. Since their introduction, the cargo-carrying Soyuz-U has 745 success and 21 failures, and the manned Soyuz-FG has had all of its 25 launches reach orbit successfully. With a lead on the source of the problem, all eyes will surely be on a commercial launch scheduled for October 8. If that and subsequent launches go well, then it could be smooth sailing for the ISS.