It’s official. Astronaut David Saint-Jacques launch to the International Space Station (ISS) is set for December 3, two and half weeks earlier than planned and after Russian officials gave the green light to resume flights.
It’s an odd development when you consider that it was only three weeks ago that the Soyuz launch of NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin failed and the escape system had to be used. Thankfully, the escape system worked as planned, and the astronauts landed safely.
For Saint-Jacques it means after years of planning for a specific mission, he’ll have to adapt to a new plan that is still evolving. Hague and Ovchinin were supposed to fly ahead of Saint-Jacques and his crewmates, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and U.S. astronaut Anne McClain.
It’s unknown when Hague and Ovchinin will fly and the carefully choreographed ISS workload is in flux.
Regardless, while Saint-Jacques may have some nerves about being part of the first crewed flight after the accident, he knows that the Russians will have had three robotic missions of the Soyuz ahead of his flight.
Russia concluded in its investigation into the failed Soyuz MS-10 saying “the start ended with a PH accident due to the abnormal separation of one of the side blocks (block ‘D’) that hit the central block (block ‘A’) in the tank fuel, which led to its depressurization and, consequently, to the loss of stabilization of the space rocket .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’.”
Russia is confident that with the problem diagnosed and extension of checks of the Soyuz that will take the next crew to the International Space Station, that it can now proceed with the launch.
Russian onboard camera look at the accident