Russia identifies cause of unmanned rocket crash

Added by on August 31, 2011

An unmanned Soyuz rocket launches on Aug 24 - the rocket and Progress 44 spacecraft were lost minutes after liftoff

Russian officials announced on Wednesday that they had found the cause of the failure that resulted in the crash on an unmanned Soyuz spacecraft last week.

The unmanned Progress 44 cargo spacecraft was on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver about 2.9 tons of supplies when a failure caused the spacecraft to crash in a region of Siberia located about 1,500km north of the spacecraft’s launch site.

Officials have been investigating the incident since the rare accident and suspended all further flights citing safety concerns. Engineers say they have traced the failure to a malfunctioning gas generator in the Soyuz rocket’s third stage engine.

Investigation of the crash is limited to recovering debris from the crash site, located in a large region in Siberia called Altai, using a single Mi-8 helicopter that is owned to the local Emergency Ministry. An official said that more helicopters will be added to enlarge the search area.

Russia became the world’s only nation capable of taking crews to the ISS after the US Space Shuttle program ended in July.

NASA officials are reported to have said that there will not be any further manned Soyuz rocket lift offs until the problem has been resolved, which potentially means that the ISS may have to be temporarily left without a crew.

Both Russian and US officials said that the crew currently onboard the ISS has enough supplies to last at least through November.