Dispute in Russia over Progress failure investigation


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The Russian mission control has publicly disavowed a report that cited mission control as saying that the failure of the Soyuz/Progress launch last week was due to the premature shutdown of the Soyuz rocket’s third stage.

First the source:

A source in the space and rocket industry told TASS that the emergency shutdown of the engines occurred after 382 seconds and at the same time the spacecraft’s separation occurred. After that, the flight control system started operating in automatic flight mode and began deploying antennas and solar batteries. However, the spacecraft failed to reach orbit and started falling and ended up being destroyed in the atmosphere.

Next the disavowal:

”Any version which are now being voiced by the media have nothing to do with reality, including the incorrect cyclogram data. The results of the commission’s work will be announced no earlier than December 20,” a spokesperson told RIA Novosti.

I must admit that the source’s suggested cause for the failure, that the rocket engine shut prematurely and the spacecraft then simply separated and began its deployment before it had reached orbital velocity and thus fell back to Earth, sounds good at first glance. However, this explanation does not explain why all communications with the spacecraft suddenly ceased.

Either way, it does appear that there is an effort within Roscosmos to spin the events in the press, prior to the completion of the investigation. This in itself is not a good sign, as it suggests that there are people there who are trying to cover their asses rather than honestly trying to find out the cause of the failure.

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