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Spacewalk to inspect hole in Soyuz spacecraft’s hull cancelled over aborted rocket launch

October 12, 14:28 UTC+3 CHKALOVSKY AERODROME

The Soyuz booster aborted after its launch, forcing the crew into ballistic descent

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© Sergey Savostianov/TASS

CHKALOVSKY AERODROME /Moscow Region/, October 12. /TASS/. A spacewalk to inspect a hole in the manned Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft’s hull scheduled for mid-November has been cancelled due to the abortive launch of the Soyuz-FG carrier rocket, Roscosmos Executive Director for Manned Programs Sergei Krikalyov said on Friday.

"The spacewalk was planned for mid-November. Alexei Ovchinin and Sergei Prokopyev were expected to make the spacewalk together. There will be no spacewalk on November 15. We will see, if we manage to make the shift intervals long enough, we will try to make this spacewalk with one of the next crews. The flight program will now be on hold and revised," Krikalyov said.

A Soyuz-FG carrier rocket with a manned Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft blasted off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome to the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, at 11:40 a.m. Moscow time. On board the spacecraft were Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin (the commander of the Soyuz MS-10) and NASA astronaut Nick Hague.

Shortly after its smooth liftoff, the Soyuz’s booster malfunctioned between the first and second stages of separating, whereupon the crew was forced to abort the flight and switch to ballistic descent. The manned Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft ended up landing in the Kazakh steppe

The press office of Russia’s Central Military District reported that rescuers had recovered the crew from the descent capsule. Later, the crewmembers were examined and found to be in good condition. After their medical check-up in the town of Baikonur, the astronauts were transported to Moscow.

This is the first emergency landing with this type of carrier rocket over the past 35 years.

Soyuz hull damage

On August 30, a drop in air pressure was registered on the ISS. The crew examined the compartments and add-on modules one by one and found a two-millimeter hole in the hull of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft attached to the orbital outpost. On that very evening, the hole was patched up with several layers of epoxy resin, with pressure subsequently returning to normal. On August 31, the crew reinforced the patch with another layer of sealant.

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft had been damaged with a drill from the inside. The space rocket corporation Energia is conducting an investigation to identify those responsible. Inquiries are being made into who had access to the spacecraft, what works were carried out, and who supervised them.

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