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People involved in faulty assembly of mishap Proton rocket to be tested on polygraph

Personnel of the enterprise that manufactured the assembly units for the Proton-M carrier rocket
Photo ITAR-TASS / Roscosmos
Photo ITAR-TASS / Roscosmos

MOSCOW, July 18 (Itar-Tass) - Personnel of the enterprise that manufactured the assembly units for the Proton-M carrier rocket, which collapsed on the ground at the Baikonur Space Center July 2 just seconds after liftoff, will be tested at the polygraph, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted Thursday.

“The people suspected of crude violations of the technological process will be tested at the lie detector,” he wrote. “The government is awaiting a report on the accident from Roscosmos.”

The Proton-M carrier rocket that was supposed to bring into orbit three satellites of Russia’s GLONASS global positioning grouping collapsed because of an incorrect installation of six angular rate sensors - the devices ensuring control of a rocket’s position in space, the deputy director of the Russian Space Agengy /Roscosmos/, Alexander Lopatin said earlier in the day.

“The Khrunichev enterprise installed three of the six angular rate sensors incorrectly,” said Alexander Lopatin, a deputy director of the Russian Space Agency /Roscosmos/.

“The cause was an industrial process violation, the human factor,” he said.

“An assembly worker installs the sensors, then seals them, then reports to the production shop foreman, and then the quality inspector issues his approval, and everyone put their signatures on the documents,” Lopatin said. “The assembly process is a highly complicated one and it requires triple control.”

“However, three sensors were installed heels over head in the final run,” he said.

As for the sensors as such, they were in a proper order, Lopatin said.

“All the six gauges passed the trial testing and were approved for installation aboard the carrier rocket,” he said.

The angular rate sensors are manufactured by an affiliation of the Nikolai Pilyugin Center of Automation and Instrument Engineering located in the city of Saratov, the Middle Volga area.

“What’s been established for sure is that it was simply impossible to mix anything up inside the sensors,” Lopatin said adding that the investigative commission did not find any irregularity in the assembly of cables either.

He also said that all the other systems had been performing normally until the moment of the rocket’s collapse on the ground. Even a small fault in the launch command that was given 0.4 seconds earlier did not affect the performance of the engines.

Had it not been for the incorrect work of the sensors, the Proton-M would have delivered the GLONASS global positioning and communications satellites to the orbit, Lopatin said.

He also said the commission members believe the launches of Proton-M carrier rockets might resume in September.

“Hopefully, we’ll continue working with the Protons in September so as to meet the annual targets /for the launches - Itar-Tass/,” Lopatin said.