NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has revealed that the agency expects to be sending astronauts to the International Space Station again as early as December. Missions to the station were suspending following a Soyuz mishap early this month.
Speaking at a National Space Council meeting titled “Moon, Mars, and Worlds Beyond, Winning the Next Frontier,” Bridenstine stated that “in December, we’re fully anticipating putting our crew on a Russian Soyuz rocket to launch to the International Space Station again.”
The failure early this month saw the two-man Soyuz MS-10 crew forced to return to Earth in ballistic descent mode. Although there was an initial loss of radio contact with Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos and NASA’s Nick Hague, the pair touched down safely and were recovered by search and rescue teams.
Although it traditionally can take months to fully complete a thorough investigation, Bridenstine confirmed that investigators already had a good idea of what caused the incident. “We have a really, really good idea of what the issue is,” said Bridenstine. “We’re getting very close to understanding it even better so we can confidently launch again.”
Over almost 60 years of crewed missions to space, there have only been a handful of mid-air disasters. In comparison to many mishaps before it, the Soyuz MS-10 incident concluded more favourably than most. Bridenstine echoed these sentiments stating, “It is important to note that while this was a failed launch, it was probably the single most successful failed launch we could have imagined.”