On Thursday at 11:40 (Moscow Time), the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle with the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome. Onboard were two crew members - Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Haig. Nine minutes after the start, the announcer on television broadcast, which was conducted on the Roscosmos website, reported the accident. A capsule with astronauts made an emergency landing in Kazakhstan.
Ovchinin and Haig experienced an overload from 6 to 8g upon landing. The source of RBC in Roscosmos noted that it does not bear severe harm to health. “In training, the load is adjusted to 15g. Therefore, people understand what awaits them in case of an emergency situation and how to endure it, ”he explained. Chairman of the Emergency Situations Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan Vladimir Becker said that the condition of the astronauts is “normal.” At the same time, TASS, citing a source at Baikonur, said that the crew of Soyuz MS-10 was “examined by doctors, their condition is not quite good.”
Immediately after the accident, the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, told RBC that “the emergency rescue system demonstrated exceptional reliability.” Rogozin informed Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev about the creation of a commission to investigate the accident.
The last time a similar accident was 35 years ago. September 26, 1983, Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov were preparing to fly aboard the Soyuz T-10/1. 90 seconds before launch, a fire broke out in the lower part of the launch vehicle, the launch was stopped. Rescue systems shot off a rescue capsule from a rocket at the start. She landed safely four kilometers from the rocket.
The accident of Soyuz FG occurred after 2 minutes 45 seconds of flight. In 2013, the Russian Proton-M rocket, which was supposed to deliver GLONASS satellites into orbit, fell after about 30 seconds of flight. Its launch was shown live on Russian television, and the words of the commentator: “Something seems to be going wrong” became a meme.
After the accident, the investigative department of the TFR at the Baikonur complex opened a criminal case on suspicion of violating the safety rules of construction works, which caused major damage. According to the investigation, at 122 seconds, at the stage of operation of the engines of the second stage of the launch vehicle, for an unknown reason, an abnormal situation occurred.
According to sources from Interfax and RIA Novosti, the cause of the incident was the emergency shutdown of engines due to poor attachment of the blocks. The RBC source in Roscosmos noted that “there are prerequisites for the formation of such a version”.
Dmitry Rogozin, at the request of RBC to comment on how realistic this version is, answered that it is still difficult to draw any conclusions: “We’ll check everything. Now we are collecting the separated parts of the first stage. ”
The creator of the community "Open Space" Vitaly Egorov also notes that it is early to draw conclusions. “It’s hard to say whether the cause of the accident lies precisely in the mounting system of side accelerators. For example, I don’t know cases when there were similar failures, ”stressed Yegorov. According to him, there has been nothing of the kind in any of the "Unions" over the past few decades, including trucks, which flew with satellites.
“Maybe there was a crash on one of the side accelerators - but again, this is unlikely. At least, this is a very long time ago an event that did not occur with the engine of the first stage at the Soyuz, ”says Egorov.
The launch of the launch vehicle was insured in the company “Consent” for 4.66 billion rubles, the insurance contract covers the risks of loss, damage, complete destruction and interrupted ignition.
The launch was dedicated to the centenary of the Experimental Machine-Building Plant of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, where the Unions are made. It was planned that the astronauts will spend 187 days in orbit. During this time, Ovchinin was supposed to conduct an experiment "Magnetic 3D-bioprinter". For the first time in the history of the Russian segment of the ISS, the crew intended to try to grow small samples (two to three millimeters) of human cartilage and of the rodent thyroid gland. In addition, Ovchinin, together with another Russian cosmonaut, Sergei Prokopiev, had to go into outer space in order to examine the Soyuz MS-09, in the casing of which, in late August, they found a hole.
Who is guilty
Vice Prime Minister Yury Borisov made personnel changes in Roscosmos after the Soyuz MS-10 accident. Dmitry Rogozin, commenting on the accident, said that he would order inspections at the enterprises of the industry.
The cosmonaut, Hero of the USSR and Russia Sergey Krikalev, is the executive director of the Roscosmos manned space programs. Operational comment on what happened RBC he could not provide. “It’s still inconvenient to speak now, the commission is working,” he said.
The Progress rocket and space center (part of Roscosmos) was the manufacturer of the missile launched at random, Vitaly Egorov recalled. "So, probably, the reasons will be sought primarily there," - he said.
In June, Dmitry Baranov was appointed general director of the RCC Progress. From 2003 to 2018, Progress was headed by Alexander Kirilin, he was removed from office by the court.
So far, 64 launches of the Soyuz-FG rocket have been made, all were successful. This is the first accident of the Soyuz-FG rocket, a source in Roskosmos confirmed to RBC. “The rocket is relatively young. It was commissioned in the early 2000s as a modification of the Soyuz-2 rocket, therefore, not so much was launched, ”he says. At the time of the commission launches "Soyuz-FG" suspended.
The interlocutor of RBC believes that the accident could encourage Americans to increase funding for testing their own missiles. But until 2020, it is unlikely that it will be possible to refuse Russian services, the source adds. “Americans are already inclined to fly the Falcon Heavy Ilona Mask. But realizing that Russia has the highest degree of reliability, they did not dare to trust the Mask experiments, ”the RBC source said.
Earlier, the head of SpaceX, Ilon Musk, announced that the first flight of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle with a manned spacecraft Crew Dragon with astronauts on board will take place in 2019.
Today, a place on the "Union" is worth about $ 35-40 million, said a source of RBC. All contracts that have already been signed will be implemented, he is sure. “Nothing threatens these contracts. The question is not in the current, but in future contracts. What will happen after 2020 is the question, ”he said.
"The new situation will lead to a faster decision on the ISS," - summed up the interlocutor of RBC. In February, the White House offered to give the US segment of the ISS to private investors and focus on manned flights to the Moon.
Vitaly Yegorov does not see any serious consequences for the relationship between Roscosmos and NASA. “Because NASA is well aware that mistakes are possible everywhere, and at one time Roscosmos helped NASA when they had an accident on the shuttle,” the expert notes. After the accident, NASA did not see a threat to relations with “dear friends” from Roskosmos and noted that the partnership “only continues to grow.”
At the same time, Egorov is sure that now there will be difficulties with the flight of the first cosmonaut from the United Arab Emirates (the other day Russia and the United Arab Emirates agreed on this). It is planned that he will fly from Baikonur to the ISS in the spring of 2019. “But now at least the launches of the Arab astronauts will be shifted to a later date,” concluded Yegorov.
Another consequence may be that the International Space Station will remain for some time without a crew. This development did not rule out Krikalev, noting that Roscosmos would try to avoid it.
According to the head of the ISS mission at NASA, Kenny Todd, who the Associated Press leads if the Russian side is not ready to launch the Soyuz with a new crew for the ISS by January 2019, NASA considers it possible to temporarily leave the station without crew.
Ivan Moiseev, the scientific director of the Space Policy Institute, called it unlikely, but possible if the work of the commission was delayed. There were disruptions in cargo delivery to the ISS, but the station never remained without a crew, he stressed.
“According to the plan, our crew should be at the station by December. If the work of the commission is delayed, then the astronauts will have to return from the ISS and it will remain in unmanned mode. It is important that the ISS is not specifically designed for autonomous operation. And since this will happen for the first time, a lot of problems can arise, ”explained Moses.
The accident will worsen the already weak apparatus positions of Rogozin, says political analyst Mikhail Vinogradov. Around the work of “Roskosmos”, there was a feeling of a series of constant failures that the government can fix with the help of personnel decisions, the expert concluded.