Carrier rocket Soyuz-U blew up on the Plesetsk cosmodrome (in the Arkhangelsk region) on Tuesday, 29 seconds after launch. Twelve spacecraft like that have been launched into space from Plesetsk since 1985. It was the 13th rocket. Thirteen is the “lucky” number.
A spokesperson for the Russian space company Rosaviakosmos said to PRAVDA.Ru correspondent that the rocket allegedly blew up because of winter ingredients that were added to the rocket fuel. The anonymous spokesperson added that there might be thousands of other versions of the explosion as well. For example, no one can exclude a possibility of an act of terrorism. Time will show. At any rate, the special state committee is drawn to believe that the accident happened because of the fuel blast. This version will most likely become the major one for the investigation.
The fuel for Soyuz rockets is blended of highly active oxidizing agent (98.8% oxygen) and “space” highly purified kerosene. The proportion of the fuel blend is calculated regardless the exterior temperature. That is why, catalytic compensation ingredients might be added to the blend in winter. It was cold that night in Plesetsk.
The rocket’s blast killed 20-year-old soldier Ivan Marchenko, who originally came from the city of Kursk. A spokesman for the EMERCOM department in the Arkhangelsk region, Oleg Bystrov said to ITAR-TASS news agency that there were eight other soldiers wounded because of the blast. The four of them have been hospitalized. They were all about one kilometer far from the explosion site. The rocket’s fragments fell down in the woods around the same area.
The Soyuz rocket was designed by the company Progress (the city of Samara) on the order from Rosaviakosmos and European Space Agency. The rocket was meant for launching the international research spacecraft Foton-M into orbit. This spacecraft was meant for exploring the space biology. Foton-M project involves ten other European countries, beside Russia. All those countries are members of the European Space Agency.
For the time being, there is a general scheme used for the investigation of the explosion. They are seeking for the guilty, then they will punish the guilty and then they will encourage the ones that had nothing to do with the blast. News agency Nomka from the Far East of Russia informed yesterday that military prosecutor Grigory Lazarenko had already instituted criminal proceedings on the fact of the rocket explosion. The proceedings were instituted on Article 293 of the Russian Criminal Code – negligence.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov