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Russia’s space agency vows to carry out rocket launches on schedule

Roscosmos also said it informs insurers timely and in full of all the circumstances of insured events

MOSCOW, October 24. /TASS/. The upcoming rocket launches will be held at the designated time and Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos has not experienced any setbacks in the work with insurance companies after the recent Soyuz booster incident, Roscosmos said on its website on Wednesday.

It was reported earlier that insurers had not filed any bids for an open tender to insure the risks of launching a Soyuz-FG booster with a Progress MS-10 resupply ship to the International Space Station (ISS). This launch is expected to be the first after the abortive launch of a Soyuz-FG booster with a manned spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on October 11.

"There have been no setbacks in cooperation with insurance companies. All the launches will be conducted at the designated time," Roscosmos said.

Roscosmos also informs insurers timely and in full of all the circumstances of insured events, the space corporation said.

"The issue of insuring the launch of a Soyuz-FG carrier rocket with a Progress MS-10 resupply ship is technical and linked with the work of the commission probing the emergency situation that arose on October 11," Roscosmos said, adding that the probe’s results would be published before October 30 this year.

It also emerged that Roscosmos officials had held a meeting with specialists of insurance companies to discuss further cooperation in insuring rocket launches and some issues related to the work of the commission probing the October 11 incident with the Soyuz-FG booster.

"Commission Chairman Oleg Skorobogatov answered questions about the probe, preliminary conclusions and Roscosmos’ further measures to rule out similar emergency situations during Soyuz rocket launches. Besides, the insurance community will be provided with the necessary information to hold tenders for insuring launches," Roscosmos said in a statement on its website.

Insurers’ opinion

The launch of a Progress resupply ship is scheduled for November 18. The Center for the Operation of the Ground-Based Space Infrastructure proposed insuring the launch risk for a sum of 3.245 billion rubles ($49 million) at the contract’s initial (maximum) price of 116.5 million rubles ($1.7 million).

Vice-President of Ingosstrakh Insurance Company Alexander Podchufarov earlier said in an interview with TASS that insurers will refrain from insuring the launches of Soyuz-FG boosters until the causes of the October 11 incident are made clear because before that it is impossible to assess the extent of the risk in the subsequent liftoffs of boosters of this type. He also noted that Ingosstrakh had no official information on the causes of the Soyuz booster incident. Podchufarov pointed out that due to this it was impossible to assess the extent of the risk in subsequent launches and develop re-insurance strategies.

Meanwhile, Insurance Development Director at MAKS insurer Sergei Pechnikov told TASS that considering the deterioration of the situation with the insured party’s risk control (including the quality deterioration), the insurance market had legitimately refused to share this risk. Problems with the quality of output cannot but affect the price of insurance, he added.

Soyuz aborted launch

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 October 11. On board the spacecraft were Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin (the commander of the Soyuz MS-10) and NASA astronaut Nick Hague.

Following a 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 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.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague, who returned to Moscow from the Baikonur spaceport on October 12 after the Soyuz booster’s failure, flew to the United States on October 13.

TASS earlier reported, citing a source in the domestic space industry, that the state commission probing the incident considered the off-nominal separation of a side block of the booster’s first stage as the basic cause of the aborted launch.