Roscosmos postpones launch of Soyuz rocket due to automatic engine shutdown

Monday, 12 Feb, 2018

"The launch of Russia's Progress 69 resupply ship to the space station today has been aborted", Nasa said on Sunday on its Twitter page for updates from the ISS.

Launch of Soyuz-2.1a carrier with Progress MS-08 cargo ship was rescheduled for a reserve date of February 13, press service of the space authority, Roskosmos said on Sunday, TASS reports.

Roscosmos - the Russian space agency - said in a statement that a command to shut off the Soyuz engine ignition sequence was issued automatically, and engineers are investigating the cause of the abort.

The rocket was carrying three tonnes of fuel, food and other supplies for the six-person crew who are now on board the ISS. One of those towers retracted as planned about 35 seconds before liftoff, but the second umbilical retraction at the 12-second mark did not, he added.

Soyuz 2-1A’s business end
Soyuz 2-1A’s business end

Soyuz launch aborts are typically rare, with Russian rockets often taking off in thick clouds and snowfall. The unpiloted cargo freighter was set to fly a record-fast express rendezvous profile, with docking just three-and-a-half hours after liftoff Sunday. However, Sunday's launch abort shares similarities with the last-minute abort of an earlier cargo ship -Progress 68 -on October 12.

A Russian rocket destined for the International Space Station (ISS) cancelled its lift off just seconds before it was supposed to blast into the sky.

Those 6-hour trips send Progress vehicles on four orbits around Earth before they arrive at the station.