Russia blames rocket failure on mistake during assembly

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A failed Russian Soyuz rocket launch three weeks ago that aborted after just two minutes was caused by a sensor that was damaged during assembly, according to an official investigation.

It was the third launch of a Soyuz rocket from Russia's northern Plesetsk launch pad this year, the military said.

During the aborted launch October 11, the crew capusle carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin was able to safely separate from the rocket after getting a warning signal during separation, firing engines to gain distance from the booster, according to NASA spokesperson Reid Weisman.

All manned missions were put on hold until investigations behind the launch failure were completed - which put UAE's mission to send its first Emirati astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) onboard the Soyuz MS-12 mission on April 5 into question as well. That crew includes Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos.

What happened during the flight?

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The Soyuz capsule carrying them separated from the malfunctioning rocket and made what is a steep ballistic descent with parachutes helping slow its speed.

The malfunction led to one of the four boosters on the first stage failing to detach correctly and colliding with a fuel tank of the second stage, which exploded.

The two crew members were then recovered by emergency workers near the Kazakh city of Dzhezkazgan, 400km (250 miles) north-east of the rocket launch site.

The Canadian Space Agency said it is still awaiting confirmation of details regarding Saint-Jacques' mission.

After investigating the incident, Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, determined that one of the rocket's boosters failed and remained stuck to the main rocket body instead of peeling off.

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Igor Skorobogatov, who headed the inquiry, said on Thursday that the issue was linked to the "deformation" of a sensor part.

The incident occurred on 11th October as has been traced to a malfunction that occurred in the detector that signals separation of the rocket's first and second stages.

Russian rockets are manufactured in Russia but the final assembly takes place at the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome.

Since then, Nasa has paid Russian Federation for seats on its Soyuz rockets to ferry its astronauts to the station.

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