Rocket failure advanced the new launch
On November 1, 2018, the Russian State Committee announced results of their investigation of a recent aborted launch of a Soyuz rocket and scheduled a flight of David Saint-Jacques (Canada) alongside with Anne C. McClain (USA) and Oleg Kononenko (Russia) for December 3, 2018.
According to the findings of the Investigation Committee reported by its Chair, Oleg Skorobogatov, at the press conference, the cause of the abort was a malfunction of a separation sensor pin due to its deformation “during the assembling of the strap-on boosters” at the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It resulted in an abnormal separation of one of those boosters which “hit with its nose the core stage,” leading to its decompression and failure. To guarantee the first manned Soyuz launch in December, it is stated that the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) is taking certain preventive measures to avoid such incidents in future. Meanwhile, Roscosmos plans to launch an unmanned Progress cargo ship to the International Space Station on November 16, 2018. The astronauts who are currently in Space are expected to return to Earth on December 20, 2018.
In his Let’s talk Science presentation for school students in Ottawa on October 24, 2018, David Saint-Jacques said that the rocket failure with the Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and the U.S. astronaut Nick Hague who returned safely back to Earth has “proven once again that the Soyuz is an incredibly robust launch system.” With both spacecraft pilots having been found alive shortly after the emergency landing, the Canadian astronaut gave “kudos” to Russians for this swift operation.