Russian Federation blames rocket failure on mistake during assembly

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"The abnormal separation was caused by the nonopening of the lid of the nozzle meant to separate aside Block D oxidizer tank, due to the deformation of the separation sensor pin [which was bent by 6 degrees and 45 minutes]", Roscosmos officials said in a statement today.

A crew crisis at the International Space Station could be averted, with Russia's Roscosmos saying this month's Soyuz launch incident was caused by a sensor failure.

That target date falls less than eight weeks after the October 11 launch anomaly, which forced the Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin to make an emergency landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan.

Thankfully, the two men on board, Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin, survived without injury and landed on the ground in Kazakhstan.

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.

Last week, Russian Federation successfully launched a Soyuz rocket for the first time since the failure.

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"It has been proven, fully confirmed, that this happened specifically because of this sensor, and that could only have happened during the package's assembly at the Baikonur cosmodrome", he said.

Russian officials believe that the defective component was damaged during assembly.

Russia, the only country able to ferry astronauts to the orbiting science lab, suspended all launches after a rocket failed on October 11 just minutes after blast-off -the first such incident in the history of post-Soviet space travel.

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.

"In order to avoid shifting the ISS to an unmanned mode, the industry is exerting considerable efforts to make the launch possible on December 3", Sergei Krikalyov, the executive director of the manned spaceflight program at Russia's Roskosmos space agency, said on October 31. When the Soyuz launch failed earlier this month, uncertainty over the ISS crew launch schedule led to speculation that the space station would have to be abandoned, at least for the time being.

Russian space officials say they hope to resume sending crews to the International Space Station on December 3 after an October launch failed because of a technical malfunction.

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