Tag Archives: Soyuz-U

Last Soyuz-U launches Progress to ISS

Russia today successfully launched a Progress freighter to ISS using its last Soyuz-U rocket.

The Soyuz-U has been launched hundreds of times since the 1970s, but has been replaced by Russia because it uses equipment made in Ukraine. The newer versions of the Soyuz rockets are completely home-built, but also have been plagued by quality control problems and corruption within Russia.

Posted in the air of the Gulf of Mexico in route to Belize.

Update on Progress/Soyuz launch failure

Link here It appears that the spacecraft separated from the upper stage while it was still firing, causing that stage to next collide with the spacecraft.

What is certain is that computers on Progress MS-04 interpreted the separation as nominal and initiated a sequence, which would be normally performed upon reaching orbit, including the deployment of the ship’s antennas and the preparation of the attitude control thrusters, DPO, for action. However, moments after the separation, the spacecraft appeared to be struck twice by the rocket stage, which clearly continued its powered flight. The first impact came nearly straight into the aft bulkhead of the ship, then the second hit landed moments later into the side of the vehicle.

The collision apparently caused the spacecraft’s propulsion system, SKD, to shift to the side from its normal position, the temperature inside its enclosure to plummet and the whole vehicle to tumble. The telemetry from the Progress also indicated the activation of its thermal control system, probably in response to a breach in the ship’s transfer compartment.

Why separation occurred prematurely, while the engines were firing, still remains a mystery.

Dispute in Russia over Progress failure investigation

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.

Russian authorities locate Progress debris

Russian authorities in Siberia have located and identified several bits of wreckage from the Soyuz-U rocket and Progress freighter that failed to reach orbit last week.

Two pieces, including a large spherical object, were found by herders over the weekend, while another was discovered in the courtyard of a residential house on Monday, said the region’s head Sholban Karaa-ool, warning people not to touch any metal debris.

Regional sanitation officials “inspected the spot where two pieces of the spacecraft were found in the Ulug-Khem district, on the side of the mountain and near a yurt,” Kara-ool said on his official website. “Another small piece was found in the yard of a house in the Eilig-Khem village,” he said.

Whether this debris can help them pinpoint the cause of the failure remains unknown.

Cause of Progress failure unlikely to be found

Not good: Sources in the Russian press say that it will likely be impossible to pinpoint precisely the cause of the Progress failure this week because of a lack of telemetry or data.

The causes of Thursday’s loss of the Progress cargo spacecraft are unlikely to be established, because neither telemetry data nor debris of the Soyuz-U rocket that was taking the cargo vehicle in orbit are available. “Telemetry transmission from the rocket was disrupted instantly, so it is practically impossible to establish the sequence of events to identify the causes of the emergency. As for material evidence, such as debris of the rocket’s third stage that might provide some clues, it is not available, either,” the source said.

They are still searching for debris but have so far come up empty.

Lacking data, they are now beginning to use computer modeling to try to figure out what happened. The prime suspect is the third stage engine.

Russia launches its first Soyuz rocket since the failure in August

Russia launches its first Soyuz rocket since the Progress launch failure in August.

This was a launch of a Soyuz-2 rocket, which is not identical to the Soyuz-U rocket that the Progress freighter was on. Nonetheless, the success is a good sign that they are back in business.

Soyuz crew returns safely to Earth, despite radio problems

One of the two three-man crews on ISS have returned safely to Earth, despite an unexpected communciations blackout during their descent.

In related news, the Russians have slightly delayed the launch dates for the next manned flights to ISS, which also means that the next test flight of Falcon 9/Dragon will have to be delayed until 2012. Moreover, the Russians are once again balking at allowing Dragon to dock with ISS on this first flight.

More Progress freighter crash investigation results

More Progress freighter crash investigation results: it appears there was something that blocked the fuel supply.

“The exposed production defect was accidental,” [the investigation] said, adding the reason may be qualified as an isolated case only after checking all available engines.

This suggests that the problem was an isolated error and that, once they have cleared the available engines, they can start flying relatively quickly.

Some suggestions for keeping ISS occupied

Some suggestions for keeping ISS occupied.

I especially like Harman’s suggestion that the Russians consider landing in the U.S. during the winter, thereby allowing them to extend one crew’s occupancy of ISS into December, January, or even February. Also, he proposes the Russians send an unmanned Soyuz to ISS during testing of the rocket, thereby providing the crews onboard a fresh lifeboat. This is something they have done in the past on their previous space station Mir.