Soyuz returns to service with cargo launch to the ISS
The Russian Soyuz launcher reentered service today as the unmanned Roscosmos Progress 71 cargo ship lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 1:14 pm EST (12:14 am Saturday, November 17, Baikonur time zone). Loaded with over three tons of food, fuel, and other supplies, it is currently executing a series of maneuvers to match orbits with the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday, November 18.
On October 11, 2018, a Soyuz-FG LV/ Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin suffered a malfunction two minutes into the flight that resulted in one of the first-stage strap-on boosters failing to separate properly and colliding with the main rocket, causing one of the fuel tanks to depressurize and initiating an automatic abort sequence.
The capsule carrying Hague and Ovchinin ejected from the rocket and the two men were met by a response team by the time their craft parachuted safely to Earth. The accident immediately grounded the Soyuz rocket fleet and placed the future of the ISS in potential jeopardy because the Soyuz is the only current means to ferry crews to and from the station. However, a subsequent Russian investigation placed the blame for the incident on a faulty sensor that was damaged during rocket assembly and the booster was cleared to resume flights.
The Progress spacecraft will require 34 orbits to reach the ISS and is scheduled to rendezvous with the station at 2:30 pm EST on November 18, where it will be captured by a robot arm and then guided to a docking port. It will then remain attached to the station for over four months before being loaded with trash and sent to burn up in the atmosphere on a controlled reentry.