Russia Plans Quick Return to Space—With an American Aboard

(Bloomberg) -- The next manned Soyuz rocket launch is scheduled for Dec. 3, less than two months after an aborted mission sent two astronauts plunging back to Earth.

The failed Oct. 11 takeoff aborted at an altitude of 50 miles as it climbed toward the International Space Station. One of the Soyuz’s four first-stage engines “abnormally separated and hit the second-stage rocket that led to the loss of stabilization,” NASA said Thursday.

The separation was caused by sensor failure tied to an error during rocket assembly at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, said in a statement. NASA astronaut Tyler “Nick” Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin weren’t injured during their rapid return to the ground.

The half-century-old Soyuz rocket is currently the only way for humans to transit to and from the ISS. NASA said it expects the first U.S. crew flights to begin next year aboard vehicles manufactured by Boeing Co. and SpaceX.

Next month’s launch of the Expedition 58 crew will include U.S. astronaut Anne McClain, the U.S. space agency said, pending a customary flight-readiness review. Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and cosmonaut Oleg Kononeko are also set to fly Dec. 3.

Roscosmos plans to launch a Progress supply vessel to the ISS on Nov. 16. The three crew members aboard the space station will return on Dec. 20, according to a Roscosmos statement, one week later than originally scheduled.

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