Status Report

RSC Energia: Technical Board reviewing the causes of ballistic mode reentry of Soyuz TMA-1

By SpaceRef Editor
May 16, 2003
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Today the first Vice-President of S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation
Energia, the first Deputy General Designer N.I. Zelenschikov met with the
representatives of some Russian information agencies on the Corporation’s
premises. He familiarized the journalists with the preliminary results of
the activities conducted by the Technical Board led by him, which is engaged
reviewing the possible causes of implementing the ballistic mode of the
Soyuz TMA-1 descent module (DM) return to Earth.

He noted that both this
mode and the controlled descent mode are nominal modes. It differs only in
that increased values of maximum g-load are experienced during aerobraking
phase in upper atmospheric layers and the Soyuz space vehicle crews,
therefore, are always prepared to implement this mode too. It took more time
than usually to conduct search and evacuation activities regarding DM and
the Expedition 6 crew of the International Space Station (ISS) following
their ground landing, due to poor organization coordination and the shortage
of funds, which does not allow us to make use of the search and rescue means
to the extent possible during descent. These issues, which are within the
competence of the respective state organization and departments, are
expected to be resolved in the future with due regard for the experience
gained during the previous flights.

N.I. Zelenschikov stated that the Board experts thought that implementation
of the ballistic descent mode, probably, had occurred because of the failure
of one of the descent control system instruments. The Board was tasked to
detect the failure location, as well as specify its origin, generate
specific recommendations aimed at preventing similar situations from
recurrence during subsequent flights of the Soyuz TMA space vehicles.

At the present time, the Checkout and Testing Facility at RSC Energia is
engaged in the activities related to the descent module of the Soyuz TMA-1
space vehicle delivered from the landing site to the Corporation by May 7th,
2003. The activities are aimed at simulation of actual flight situation
under ground conditions. Also an integrated simulation of the descent
control system using the DM-specific onboard equipment is currently under

The board, whose working groups involve the specialists from RSC Energia,
the Russian enterprises and agencies participating in the ISS Project and
manufacture of the Soyuz TMA space vehicles, proceeds with its work. The
conclusions and recommendations resulting from its performance will be
reported in late May – early June 2003. Regular reports will be submitted to
Rosaviakosmos and NASA as the Board proceeds with its activities.

At the close of the meeting with N.I. Zelenschikov, the first Vice-President
of RSC Energia, the first Deputy General Designer, the journalists visited
the Corporation’s Checkout and Testing Facility where they could see the
Soyuz TMA-1 DM and the assembly process of the Progress and Soyuz TMA-3
space vehicles in support of the ISS Program implementation in 2003.

SpaceRef staff editor.