The Russians are moving fast. Roscosmos, the district's space agency, had triggered an automatic crash after a missile malfunction last month. She says she knows what happened and how she can be resolved. Instead of postponing the next flight with astronauts – originally scheduled for December 20 -, the launch is postponed to December 3.
NASA has confidently entered its Russian counterpart. And Anne McClain, the American astronaut in flight rotation, says she's ready to strap on and leave. "I would have come to the Soyuz the next day," she told reporters on Friday.
On October 11, a Russian Soyuz rocket sustained less than three minutes of flight when one of the secondary amplifiers did not properly disengage and hit the rocket.
Roscosmos has said that the mishap was caused by a "deformed" sensor that was damaged during rocket assembly, causing the problem of booster disconnection. Since the accident, Russia has successfully flown the Soyuz three times without crew and restored confidence in the system.
In an interview on Friday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Roscosmos was "very transparent. They provided us with all the data we needed to be sure that we understood the problem and were resolved. "
He said the flight was moved up to "get our crew up there as fast as possible" because the last mission had failed. Scott Kelly, the former NASA astronaut who spent nearly a year in space, said it made sense because two of the three crew members on the next flight were "rookies" who had never been in space. To get to the station early, the crew would "give time for an effective handover," he said. "I could see why they would like to postpone this flight sooner if they could do that for sure."
While the final mission was considered staggering at NASA, it was a "very successful false start," as Bridenstine said, as the crews safely returned to Earth. As the booster collided with the rocket, the spaceship instantly pushed away from the rocket and carried the astronauts – a Russian, an American – on a wild ride near the edge of the space.
During the escape, the two were pushed back into their seats, they suffered 7 G or seven times the gravity. NASA astronaut Nick Hague recently told reporters that he first noticed he was "shaken violently from side to side. The alarm sounded, a light flashed and "when I saw the light, I knew we had an emergency with the booster."
Haag and his Russian counterpart Alexey Ovchinin were also immediately found by rescue workers. This was a much better result than a notorious launch in 1975, when Soviet Union cosmonauts landed in a remote part of eastern Russia, on the snow-capped slope of a mountain, nearly falling from a cliff. (They were a day later.) But even if the crashes are right, they should not take place at all. This was dangerously close to what is known in the space industry as a "bad day". Aerospace is inherently risky, but NASA and its partners are trying to reduce the risk.
It seems to be a "pretty simple assembly error they made when they put the rocket together," said Wayne Hale, former NASA space shuttle program manager. "It has nothing to do with the basic design."
The mishap follows the discovery of a small hole of mysterious origin in a section.
The hole is the subject of a separate investigation by Roscosmos. The Russians have aroused the idea of sabotage. The hole had been awkwardly repaired after its creation, and when the spot failed, a small air leak from the station triggered an alarm. The hole has since been patched again and is not considered a threat to the reentry of the Soyuz, as it is in a part of the spacecraft that is dropped in space.
The two anomalies – the launching error and the Soyuz hole – are almost certainly not related, according to industry experts. However, this is a company that wants to set the current number of anomalies to zero rather than two.
Bridenstine said the problem couple "raises questions," but did not want to comment until the investigation is completed.
The incidents also recall that the Soyuz is the only way people can get to the International Space Station. If the Soyuz remain grounded for an extended period of time, NASA and its partners may need to temporarily abandon the station.
"I would not put the crew in danger to occupy them," said Mike Suffredini, President and CEO of Axiom Space, which develops private space stations.
A NASA safety advisory panel last month also said that the desire to meet the timetable "subtly undermines the potential for the workforce – the drive to meet and overcome the pressure of unrealistic deadlines – to undermine informed decision-making Approaching start dates. "
McClain said she was confident that Roscosmos had solved the problem by asking "the three important questions: What happened? Why is that happend? And how do we make sure it does not happen again? Nobody would give the green light until these three questions have been answered. "