A Problem with Soyuz?

by | Sep 24, 2012 | Uncategorised | 0 comments

The latest Soyuz launch from Baikonur successfully lofted MetOp-B for the European Space Agency, but a rumor is floating around of an anomaly, possibly the result of an early engine cutoff on the second and/or third stage. According to the rumor — cited unsourced but credibly by the generally reliably Anatoly Zak — the engines were cut off early by a spurious or faulty signal.

In any case, MetOp-B appears to be in its proper sun-synch orbit and functioning normally.

After well over a thousand Soyuz launches, we are fairly certain that Russia knows how to build and launch the thing. But if the rumor is correct it is only the latest in a series of problems with Russian rockets. Most recently the Proton was grounded for inspections, and several high-profile launches have ended in failure in recent years. Soyuz and Proton will both work if built and launched correctly. One might be inclined at this point to speculate about quality control in the relevant factories.

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