Stunning new footage of last month's near-catastrophic Soyuz rocket mishap, released Thursday by Russian space agency Rocosmos, shows the harrowing moment when everything went wrong, just as the rocket escaped the clutches of gravity.
Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and American astronaut Nick Hague had to abort their mission on October 11 and perform an emergency landing after the Soyuz rocket supposed to carry them to the International Space Station failed. The two men landed safely on a steppe in Kazakhstan in the accident, the first of its kind for Russia's manned program in over three decades.
"The reason for the abnormal separation. was due to a deformation of the stem of the contact separation sensor", chief investigator Igor Skorobogatov told reporters.
The sensor was damaged during the rocket's assembly at the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan, the probe commission head said.
The last time Russian Federation saw an aborted manned launch was in 1983, when two Soviet cosmonauts jettisoned and landed safely after a launch pad explosion.
Two more Soyuz rockets at the Baikonur and Kourou spaceports with the same defect have been discovered, Skorobogatov said, with additional checks introduced into the rocket assembly process.
China leads the way as world's billionaires get even richer
Last week, a UBS relationship manager, normally based in Singapore, was stopped at Beijing airport and interviewed by authorities. The Swiss bank briefly banned its staff from travelling to the country - the situation since has returned to normal.
"We have a number of Russian Soyuz rocket launches in the next month and a half and in December, we're fully anticipating putting our crew on a Russian Soyuz rocket to launch to the International Space Station again", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said last week.
"It was damaged during the assembling of the strap-on boosters with the core stage at the Baikonur Cosmodrome".
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.
Russian space officials plan to conduct one more unmanned Soyuz launch from Russia and one overseas before launching a crew to the space station. The Soyuz rocket-spaceship duo has been astronauts' only ride to and from the orbiting lab since NASA grounded its space shuttle fleet in 2011. Russian Federation stands to lose that monopoly with the arrival of SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's Starliner crew capsules.