Soyuz launch failure due to deformation during assembly: Russian official

International Space Station

A top Russian official earlier blamed the failure on a malfunction of a sensor but didn't explain why it didn't work.

A Russian official says an investigation has found that a failed rocket launch three weeks ago was caused by a sensor that was damaged during assembly.

The launch date of the Soyuz MS-11 mission was revealed during a press conference held by Roscosmos, where they also disclosed the reason behind why their Soyuz MS-10 mission had to do an emergency landing on October 11 - causing the astronauts to carry out a ballistic re-entry back into Earth.

They landed safely on a steppe in Kazakhstan, but the aborted mission dealt another blow to the troubled Russian space program that serves as the only way to deliver astronauts to the orbiting outpost.

The accident involving the Soyuz-FG was caused by a faulty sensor on one of the rocket's side blocks during disengagement from the central block, Oleg Skorobogatov, chairman of the emergency commission assigned to investigate the incident, told reporters in Moscow on Thursday.

Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, posted a video of the botched launch to Twitter on Thursday. He said additional checks were being introduced into the rocket assembly process.

Russian Federation suspended all launches after the accident on October 11, unprecedented for Russia's post-Soviet manned launches, that saw the rocket fail minutes after blast-off.

The failure occurred about 2 minutes after liftoff from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, when one of the Soyuz's four strap-on boosters (the one known as Block D) failed to separate properly and instead slammed into the rocket's core stage.

Roscosmos officials on Wednesday met with their counterparts from NASA to give them a full briefing on the malfunction, Roscosmos director general Dmitry Rogozin said Thursday. They have been driven to do this because, at present, the Soyuz spacecraft is the only means by which NASA, Russia, and their worldwide partners have of getting people to and from the station.

The accident was the first serious launch problem experienced by a manned Soyuz space mission since 1983 when a crew narrowly escaped before a launchpad explosion.

Sergei Krikalyov, a senior Roscosmos official, was quoted by state news agency TASS as saying the next manned launch had been planned for mid-December, but that Russian Federation was trying to bring the date forward so that the ISS is not briefly left without a crew.

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