A Russian Soyuz rocket unleashed an anomaly shortly after launching the International Space Station on October 11
Photo credits: Bill Ingalls / NASA
The next crew members should head for the International Space Station in December, despite the failure of a Russian Soyuz rocket in early December, NASA chief Jim Briddentine said.
This error occurred on October 11, when the Soyuz spacecraft and NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin made an emergency landing in Kazakhstan a few minutes after launch. Investigating the incident has been productive, and the Soyuz rocket is unlikely to stay grounded much longer, Briddens said today (October 23) during a US National Space Council meeting in Washington, DC
"We really, really good idea of what the problem is, "said Briddentine. "We are very close to understanding it better so that we can start again with confidence." [In Photos: Space Crew’s Harrowing Abort Landing After Soyuz Failure]
He did not elaborate on that. The speculation is currently focused on one of the Soyuz's four boosters, which may have been improperly attached to the rocket prior to the flight. Russian space agencies have stated that they will complete their accident report by 30 October, although it is unclear when the results of this report will be published.
Russian officials have also said that they want to make three unauthorized Soyuz launches before using the rocket to strike astronauts again. And the current schedule should enable the next crew launch on December 20, as it is currently planned, said Bridenstine.
"NASA regroups, we are re-planning, and we are getting ready to go again," he said. "We will be launching a series of Russian Soyuz rockets in the next month and a half, and in December we expect to put our crew on a Russian Soyuz rocket to launch back to the International Space Station."
This crew consists of NASA astronaut Anne McClain, cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. But Hague and Ovchinin, who got through on October 11, will get another chance in the future, both NASA and Russian space officials said.
"You are not happy," Briddentine said of the duo. "They want to be on the International Space Station, and they can not wait to go back, so we're grateful for their enthusiasm."
NASA is also grateful that the Soyuz Emergency Crash System has worked just as it should on October 11, he added.
"It is important to note that while this was a failed launch, it was probably the only successful launch we could have imagined," said Briddentine.
Today's event marks the fourth meeting of the newly constituted National Space Council, chaired by US Vice President Mike Pence. Today's meeting focused largely on efforts to establish a space shuttle as the sixth branch of the US military, a priority of President Donald Trump.
Mike Walls Book on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life " Outside " is published on November 13 by Grand Central Publishing. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall . Follow us @SpaceTotcom or Facebook . Originally published on Space.com .