It’s been a long road, getting from there to here….
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
The Russian space program reached a milestone last week: for the first time in nearly a decade, it went a full 12 months — 365 days — without a single partial or complete launch failure.
On Oct. 11 the program passed the one-year anniversary of the Soyuz MS-10 in-flight abort that sent NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin on a wild ballistic ride. Neither one was injured; both later flew to the International Space Station.
The last time Russia went more than one year between launch failures was a 14-month stretch between March 14, 2008 and May 21, 2009.
The last calendar year in which the Russian space program had a clean sheet was in 2003. They have 76 days left in 2019 to equal that feat.
The table below shows the program’s 22 failures and six partial failure over the past 15 years.
The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.
China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Nick Hague returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Thursday, alongside Soyuz commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The crew landed safely at 6:59 a.m. EDT in Kazakhstan.
Hague and Ovchinin launched March 14, along with fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch. Six hours later, they began their 203-day mission on the station, orbiting Earth 3,248 times and traveling 86.1 million miles.
Video Caption: “What’s a spacewalk like? What do you feel?” As NASA prepares to send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024 under the #Artemis program, Brad Pitt is playing an astronaut in his latest film, Ad Astra. On Sept. 16 from NASA Headquarters in Washington, the actor spoke to astronaut Nick Hague about what it’s truly like to live and work in space.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The International Space Station is the setting today for a student competition to control tiny, free-floating satellites aboard the orbiting lab. Meanwhile, the Expedition 60 crewmembers conducted a variety of research operations and continued configuring a pair of spacesuits.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — More than three months after delivering several tons of supplies and scientific experiments to the International Space Station, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft, the SS Roger Chaffee, will depart the orbiting laboratory Tuesday, Aug. 6.
Live coverage of the craft’s release will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at noon EDT, with release scheduled for 12:15 p.m.
Koch, who arrived at the space station March 14, and now is scheduled to remain in orbit until February 2020, will set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, eclipsing the record of 288 days set by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2016-17. She will be part of three expeditions – 59, 60 and 61 – during her current first spaceflight. Her mission is planned to be just shy of the longest single spaceflight by a NASA astronaut – 340 days, set by former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly during his one-year mission in 2015-16.
The mission schedule currently is as follows: (more…)
WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA’s commercial partner Northrop Grumman is scheduled to launch its Antares rocket carrying its Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the international Space Station at 4:46 p.m. EDT Wednesday, April 17. The launch, as well as briefings preceding and following liftoff, will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Expedition 59 Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Anne McClain of NASA concluded their spacewalk at 2:40 p.m. EDT. During the six-hour, 39-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully replaced nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries for the power channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays.
Virgin Galactic pilots Mark “Forger” Stucky and Frederick “C.J.” Sturckow, who were awarded civilian astronaut wings last week, are among 18 pilots who have flown suborbital flights.
The two pilots flew SpaceShipTwo Unity to an altitude of 51.4 miles (82.72 km) on Dec. 13, 2018. That accomplishment qualified them for civilian astronaut wings using an American definition that places the boundary of space at 50 miles (80.46 km).
Russia plans to deliver a magnetic 3-D bioprinter capable of growing living tissues and eventually organs.to the International Space Station (ISS) next month, TASS reports.
The Organ-Avt bioprinter, built by 3D Bioprinting Solutions, is a copy of one that was lost in the abort of the Soyuz MS-10 mission on Oct. 11. Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague parachuted to safety after a malfunction of their Soyuz-FG booster.
The bioprinter, which also can be used to used to study the effects on living organisms during long-duration spaceflights. will be carried to ISS aboard the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft. The spacecraft is set to lift off from the Baiknour Cosmodrome on Dec. 3 with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, American astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques aboard.
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.
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.
Video Caption: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks via satellite with astronaut Nick Hague in Houston. Hague and Russian crewmate Alexey Ovchinin safely made a ballistic landing in Kazakhstan on Oct. 11, when the launch of their Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station was aborted due to an anomaly.