MONTREAL — Russian space officials said Wednesday that they hope to resume sending crews to the International Space Station in early December, potentially clearing the way for Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques to make his first voyage into space.
An investigation determined that a malfunctioning sensor caused a Soyuz rocket to fail shortly after it was launched in Kazakhstan on Oct. 11, the executive director of the Russian space agency announced.
Sergei Krikalyov said the malfunction caused one of the rocket’s four side boosters to collide with the second stage of the rocket.
With the probe now complete, Krikalyov said the agency is preparing to resume manned launches to the station as early as Dec 3.
The crew is expected to include Saint-Jacques, who was originally scheduled to fly to the station Dec. 20 on a six-month mission.
The 48-year-old astronaut recently told The Canadian Press that the exact date of his flight was likely to change after Russia’s space agency suspended all space flights as it probed the failure.
“Once they finish their work, we’ll know whether the launch will happen on time, later or maybe even ahead of time,” Saint-Jacques said on Oct. 24. “We don’t know. We’re getting ready for every option, (and) I’ll be ready whatever happens.”
The Canadian Space Agency has previously said Saint-Jacques would fly on the next Soyuz ruled safe for flight to the space station.
The agency said Wednesday it was awaiting confirmation of details regarding Saint-Jacques’ mission.
Russia’s space agency suspended manned space launches after the rocket failure forced a Soyuz capsule with two astronauts on board to make an emergency landing.
The rocket failed two minutes into the flight, sending NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Alexei Ovchinin of Roscosmos plummeting 50 kilometres to earth. Neither man was injured.
The agency successfully launched an unmanned Soyuz rocket last week and said Wednesday that it plans to launch two more before sending a crew to the space station.
Krikalyov did not explain what caused the sensor to malfunction but said the agency was working to prevent the issue on future flights.
— With files from the Associated Press
The Canadian Press