Rocket Investigation Complete; Russia, Japan Announce Mission Updates

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft launched Oct. 11, 2018
The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft launched Oct. 11, 2018, with Expedition 57 crew members Nick Hague of NASA and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos. During the Soyuz spacecraft’s climb to orbit, an anomaly occurred, resulting in an abort downrange. The crew was quickly recovered in good condition.

NASA is working closely with its International Space Station partner Roscosmos to move forward on crew launch plans. Roscosmos plans to launch the Progress 71 resupply mission on Nov. 16, and is targeting the launch of the Expedition 58 crew including NASA astronaut Anne McClain for Dec. 3, pending the outcome of the flight readiness review.

Roscosmos completed an investigation into the loss of a Soyuz rocket last month that led to a suspension of Russian rocket launches to the station. One of four first stage rocket engines abnormally separated and hit the second stage rocket that led to the loss of stabilization of the Soyuz on Oct. 11. A statement from Roscosmos describes the cause…

“The reason for the abnormal separation is the non-opening of the nozzle cap of the “D” block oxidizer tank because of the deformation of the stem of the separation contact sensor (bending on 6 ˚ 45 ‘), which was admitted when assembling the “package” at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The cause of the LV accident is of operational nature and extends to the backlog of the “Soyuz” type LV “package”.”

Japan also announced today the release of its H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) resupply ship, also called the Kounotori, from the station’s Harmony module. Commander Alexander Gerst will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Kounotori Nov. 7 at 10:50 a.m. EDT as Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor supports him.

Crew Studies How Space Impacts Brain and Perception

The International Space Station
The International Space Station was pictured Oct. 4, 2018, from the departing Expedition 56 crew during a flyaround aboard the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft. Credit: Roscosmos/NASA

A pair of Expedition 57 astronauts spent the day exploring how humans think and work while living long-term in space. A cosmonaut also tested a pair of tiny, free-floating satellites operating inside the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor is helping doctors on the ground understand if an astronaut’s brain structure and mental abilities change in space. She took part in a behavioral assessment test today that involves the mental imaging of rotating objects, target accuracy during motion or stillness and concentrating on two tasks at the same time. The NeuroMapping experiment, which has been ongoing since 2014, is exploring an astronaut’s neuro-cognitive abilities before, during and after a spaceflight.

Scientists are also learning how an astronaut’s nervous system may be impacted by different gravitational environments such as the moon, asteroids or planets. The GRIP study from ESA (European Space Agency) is exploring how space residents interact with objects by monitoring their grip and load forces.

Commander Alexander Gerst from Germany strapped himself into a specialized seat in the Columbus lab module for the GRIP study today. He performed several motions in the seat while gripping a device collecting data measuring cognition, grip force and movement kinematics.

Cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev set up the bowling ball-sized SPHERES satellites for a test run inside Japan’s Kibo lab module. The SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) are used for a variety of experiments including autonomous formation-flying, shipping liquids such as fuels and introducing students to spacecraft navigation techniques.

Hague Back in Houston, Station Crew Works Science and Cargo

Celestial view of Earth's atmospheric glow and the Milky Way
The International Space Station was orbiting about 256 miles above South Australia when a camera on board the orbital complex captured this celestial view of Earth’s atmospheric glow and the Milky Way.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague is safe and sound and back in Houston after last week’s mission to the International Space Station was aborted during ascent. Meanwhile, the three orbiting Expedition 57 crew members continue ongoing research, maintenance and cargo packing.

Hague returned to Houston Saturday following his emergency landing shortly after launch in the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft in Kazakhstan on Thursday. He and fellow Soyuz crew member Alexey Ovchinin were flown back to Moscow after medical checks in Kazakhstan then returned home to their families.

Back in space, two astronauts Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Commander Alexander Gerst and worked on a variety of life support and science experiments today. The duo also partnered up for cargo operations inside JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) HTV-7 resupply ship.

Auñón-Chancellor started her day testing the performance of battery life in space for the Zero G Battery Test experiment. Gerst was activating and checking out a life support rack to ensure good carbon dioxide and water management in the device.

Cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev worked throughout Monday on life support maintenance in the station’s Russian segment. The Russian flight engineer also ran on a treadmill in the Zvezda service module for an experiment observing how microgravity impacts exercise.

Station Crew Busy With Science After Aborted Launch Ascent

North Africa and the Mediterranean Sea
North Africa and the Mediterranean Sea are pictured as the International Space Station orbited 254 miles above the African continent. Japan’s Kounotori H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) is pictured at left attached to the Harmony module.

Three Expedition 57 crew members are staying busy aboard the International Space Station after the climb to orbit of two crewmates was aborted Thursday morning. American Nick Hague and Russian Alexey Ovchinin made an emergency landing shortly after launch, but are in excellent shape and back in Russia. The trio in orbit is continuing science and maintenance aboard the orbital laboratory.

NASA astronaut Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Ovchinin are safe and returned to Moscow with mission officials after their aborted mission. The Soyuz MS-10 rocket booster experienced a failure about two minutes after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Hague will return to Houston, Texas, on Saturday and Ovchinin will stay in Moscow. Investigations into the cause of the failure are beginning, and the space station international partner agencies are evaluating what changes to the station’s operating plan will need to be adopted.

The three humans still orbiting Earth are safe with plenty of supplies and work to do on orbit. Commander Alexander Gerst and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor started their day measuring how microgravity has impacted their muscles for the Myotones study. They then moved on to researching an ancient technique that may be used for emergency navigation on future space missions.

Serena Auñón-Chancellor is scheduled to talk with two different school groups on Monday and Thursday next week. One of those conversations will involve the flight of Seaman Jr., a plush toy that is part of the National Park Service’s celebration of its the 3,700 mile Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

Flight Engineer Sergey Prokopyev maintained life support systems in the Russian segment of the space station. He also updated the station’s inventory system and checked on Russian science experiments.

Crew in Good Condition After Booster Failure

Astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos Director Dmitry Rogozin
Astronaut Nick Hague (left) and Roscosmos Director Dmitry Rogozin

.@AstroHague NASA Astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are seen in Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. They are in good condition following their safe landing on Earth after a Soyuz booster failure after launch earlier. Latest updates: nasa.gov/live

Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin
Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin
NASA astronaut Nick Hague
NASA astronaut Nick Hague

Statement on Soyuz MS-10 Launch Abort

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has shared the following statement on Twitter @JimBridenstine.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are in good condition following today’s aborted launch. I’m grateful that everyone is safe. A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted. Full statement below:

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 4:40 a.m. EDT Thursday, October 11 (2:40 p.m. in Baikonur) carrying American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. Shortly after launch, there was an anomaly with the booster and the launch ascent was aborted, resulting in a ballistic landing of the spacecraft.

Search and rescue teams were deployed to the landing site. Hague and Ovchinin are out of the capsule and are reported to be in good condition. They will be transported to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia outside of Moscow.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA team are monitoring the situation carefully. NASA is working closely with Roscosmos to ensure the safe return of the crew. Safety of the crew is the utmost priority for NASA. A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted.

Launch Update

The Soyuz MS-10 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 4:40 a.m. EDT Thursday, October 11 (2:40 p.m. in Baikonur). Shortly after launch, there was an issue with the booster. Teams have confirmed the spacecraft separated from the booster and are in contact with the crew as the capsule returns in a ballistic decent mode.

U.S., Russian Crew Counting Down to Thursday Morning Launch

Expedition 57 crew members Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos (left) and Nick Hague of NASA
Expedition 57 crew members Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos (left) and Nick Hague of NASA (right) pose for pictures in front of their Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft.

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos are preparing for their launch to the International Space Station. Their journey to the station will begin with a lift off at 4:40 a.m. EDT Thursday (2:40 p.m. in Baikonur). Live launch coverage will begin at 3:30 a.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website. At the time of launch, the space station will be flying over NE Kazakhstan at 254 statute miles.

The two will join Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency, NASA Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Prokopyev, who arrived at the station in June.

The crew members of Expedition 57 will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the International Space Station, humanity’s only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory.

Below is the crew’s launch timeline in EDT:

EDT               L-Hr/M/Sec   Event

7:40:17pm     9:00                Crew wakeup at Cosmonaut Hotel
10:40:17pm   6:00                Crew departs Cosmonaut Hotel
10:55:17pm   5:45                Batteries installed in booster
11:25:17pm   5:15                Crew arrives at Site 254
11:40:17pm   5:00                Tanking begins
12:10:17am   4:30                Crew suit up
12:35:17am   4:05                Booster loaded with liquid Oxygen
1:10:17am    3:30                Crew meets family members on other side of the glass
1:35:17am    3:05                First and second stage oxygen fueling complete
1:40:17am    3:00                Crew walkout from 254 and boards bus for the launch pad
1:45:17am    2:55                Crew departs for launch pad (Site 1)
2:05:17am    2:35                Crew arrives at launch pad (Site 1)
2:15:17am    2:25                Crew boards Soyuz; strapped in to the Descent module
3:05:17am    1:35                Descent module hardware tested
3:20:17am    1:20                Hatch closed; leak checks begin
3:30:00am   1:10:17          NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE BEGINS
3:40:17am    1:00                Launch vehicle control system prep; gyro activation
3:45:00am     :55:17          NASA TV: Crew pre-launch activities B-roll played)
3:55:17am      :45:00          Pad service structure components lowered
3:56:17am      :44:00          Clamshell gantry service towers retracted
4:03:17am      :37:00          Suit leak checks begin; descent module testing complete
4:06:17am      :34:00          Emergency escape system armed
4:25:17am      :15:00          Suit leak checks complete; escape system to auto
4:30:17am       :10:00          Gyros in flight readiness and recorders activated
4:33:17am       :07:00          Pre-launch operations complete
4:34:17am       :06:00          Launch countdown operations to auto; vehicle ready
4:35:17am      :05:00          Commander’s controls activated
4:36:17am       :04:00          Combustion chamber nitrogen purge
4:36:51am      :03:26        ISS flies directly over the Baikonur Cosmodrome
4:37:17am      :03:00          Propellant drainback
4:37:32am      :02:45          Booster propellant tank pressurization
4:38:47am       :01:30          Ground propellant feed terminated
4:39:17am      :01:00          Vehicle to internal power
4:39:42am      :00:35          First umbilical tower separates
Auto sequence start
4:39:47am      :00:30          Ground umbilical to third stage disconnected
4:40:02am      :00:15          Second umbilical tower separates
4:40:05am      :00:12          Launch command issued
Engine Start Sequence Begins
4:40:07am      :00:10          Engine turbo pumps at flight speed
4:40:12am       :00:05         Engines at maximum thrust
4:40:17am      :00:00        LAUNCH OF SOYUZ MS-10 TO THE ISS
4:49:02am      +8:45         THIRD STAGE SHUTDOWN; SOYUZ ORBITAL INSERTION

For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/.