Russia’s catastrophic loss on October 11th of an important Soyuz rocket is being rapidly investigated, and the event is subject to a criminal enquiry. Other users of the Soyuz rocket variants include Arianespace, and any potential delay to their planned launches would be damaging to the satellite industry.
A preliminary study indicates that one of the rocket’s 4 strap-on booster elements failed to properly separate and hit the remaining portion of the main booster.
The director of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos told reporters in Moscow that contact had occurred between the strap-on booster and the rocket carrying two astronauts but that it was too early for final conclusions. Experts watching the actual live launch do not necessarily agree with this statement.
The main booster cut off its power automatically because of the problem which occurred just 119 seconds into the flight. Roscosmos says they should be able to have a complete study of the failure by October 20th.
The good news – such as it is – is that other Soyuz launches are not suspended or cancelled, suggesting that an early return to normal operations is likely.