Tough beginning for Vostochny cosmodrome – countdown was interrupted, launch is delayed and date of next attempt is set for 28th April 2016.
If someone missed great celebration of Roscosmos will soon have another chance. After interrupting countdown procedure of Soyuz-2.1a with MVL-300 satellite on atop at 02:00 GMT at T-90″, first questions were about reasons and when next attempt will be performed. Chief of the Roscosmos State Corporation, Igor Komarov, said for TASS news agency that flight was cancelled during remaining in automatic countdown mode and it is possible to try again in 24 hours; it means that next attempt could be set for 28th April, 2016 for 02:01 GMT. Igor Komarov stated:
“There are all grounds to believe that we will manage to restore it in one day… An automatic stop of the launch occurred due to glitches of the work of the automatic control system”
He also claims that reason of interrupting start procedure was already found and technicians are working to fix the problem. TASS is quoting anonymous source in space industry, who claims that problem was referring to one of the control systems in Soyuz:
“According to the interpretation of telemetry the automatic system identified a glitch in one of the instruments of the control system responsible for starting and stopping the engines, for the separation of rocket stages, and for the direction of flight,”
It seems that this system could be digital flight control which is basically main system of the rocket dependable on data provided by various sensors and its own flight algorithm. It was one of the parts of Soyuz-2.1a which were upgraded, mainly to provide capability of using large fairing. After spotting the problem, technicians were analyzing log files and trying to find if problem is linked with one of the computers (which could fail like IMU during Arianespace VS14 launch on April 24, 2016) or with sensors which could simply provide inaccurate data. Roscosmos excludes that interrupt was caused by any part of infrastructure in Vostochny cosmodrome or human mistake. First deputy of Roscosmos, Alexander Ivanov stated during press conference (according to TASS):
“This has no relation to the specifics of the Vostochny cosmodrome… This is not linked to the work of the mobile tower or the launching system.”
Additional information about condition of the rocket and three satellites remaining under payload fairing was also given. Spokesman of the Roscosmos announced as follow:
“It is most important that the rocket is safe and all the three satellites are safe. This is the most important thing, this shows that telemetry works as normal.”
It seems that three satellites (MVL-300, SamSat-218 and Aist-2D) are in good health. It is possible that on 28th April we will see Soyuz-2.1a lifting off and reaching orbit in its 1860th launch only if engineers and technicians in Vostochny will manage to fix the problem and weather conditions remain for “go”. Details about reason of countdown interrupting will be subject of work of separate commission.
On picture above: safety home for Soyuz – mobile service tower in action.