A Record-Breaking Supply Rocket to the ISS was Suddenly Halted

Sunday, 11 February 2018 - 2:33PM
Sunday, 11 February 2018 - 2:33PM
A Record-Breaking Supply Rocket to the ISS was Suddenly Halted
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While this has been an especially good week for rocket launches, a potentially record breaking rocket launch to the International Space Station (ISS) was suddenly stopped at the very last minute.

A Russian Soyuz 2.1a rocket, named Progress 69, was supposed to be one of the fastest resupply missions to the ISS in the station's history, carrying three tons of food, fuel, and other miscellaneous supplies. Within minutes of its planned departure, NASA and Russian space agency Roscosmos seemed to making preparations as normal, but the launch was inexplicably cancelled moments before liftoff.

According to NASA spokesman Rob Navias, who said the following during a live statement just before the rocket's launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrone in Kazakhstan:

Opening quote
"The launch of the Progress 69 cargo craft to the International Space Station has been scrubbed. The countdown ended just seconds before liftoff with an abort command that was sent from the blockhouse at Baikonur."
Closing quote

It doesn't appear to be a problem with the rocket itself - Navias went on to say the issue seemed to be with the two structures holding the rocket upright before the engine ignites. One of the two structures disconnected properly, but the other one did not disconnect just 12 seconds before the launch.

Since it would have caused a big mess if the rocket took off in those circumstances, the whole ordeal was scrubbed, and the Soyuz will likely take off at a later date, meaning it could be a couple extra days before the ISS crew gets those supplies.

If the launch had gone as planned, the Soyuz would have taken only three-and-a-half hours to reach the space station, an improvement over the current six hour average that "Progress" rockets take, and a major improvement over the previous average of two days before Roscosmos made improvements.

So until then, the record will stay as is. And the ISS will surely be frustrated about the late supplies.
Science News