A few days after the crash of the Russian Soyuz-FG space rocket launcher, the Russian media started spinning reports claiming that the launcher’s control system was developed and manufactured by the Ukrainian companies – a Kharkiv-based Polisvit design bureau and a Kommunar research and production enterprise – directly or indirectly accusing them of the incident.
This is no surprise as it has long been noticed that Moscow prefers to cover up their mishaps and incidents with “Right Sector sabotage” and versions alike.
At the same time, a number of members of the Russian State Commission to investigate the causes of the Soyuz crash of October 11 of this year believe that at the time of the separation of the launcher booster, a valve failed to open, responsible for the separation. This led to the strap-on boosters failing to properly separate and nicking the core stage. Commission members believe that the failure of this drainage-safety valve to open was due to the failure of the squibs. The version originally flashed in some media reports until it was overshadowed by the “Ukrainian trace” thing, so traditional for Russian propaganda.
According to Russian experts involved in the investigation of the incident, the cause of the incident was the ground team’s failure to perform the full ground test routine of the Soyuz launcher before it set off from the Baikonur cosmodrome. This regulation provides, in particular, the supply of low voltage to the fuses of the rocket squibs to test the operation of the electrical circuit. The deviations from the test schedule, for which the head of the Baikonur branch of the CSKB-Progress rocket and space center (Samara) Vladimir V. Serdyuk is responsible, was a result of his team being convinced in the reliability of the squibs that have been in operation for decades.
The following is known about the Soyuz launcher’s control system. It was manufactured in Ukraine in line with the design documentation, which was transferred in the 1970s-1980s by the Moscow Research Institute of Automation and Instrument Engineering to Kharkiv-based enterprises in the framework of inter-Republican cooperation.
In 2011-2012, Roscosmos enterprises purchased in Ukraine more than 30 sets of these control systems for the Soyuz launch vehicle, with an annual demand of only seven sets.
However, during the implementation of the Russian import substitution program, the Soyuz launch vehicle control system was repeatedly upgraded by CSKB-Progress and Yekaterinburg-based NPO Avtomatiki named after Semikhatov.
In addition, according to the investigative commission, the Soyuz control system, which malfunctioned, was equipped with electrical connectors, including to blow up the squibs, manufactured by Kazan-based Zavod Elecon OJSC instead of the Ukrainian ones.
It should be noted that the work on the modernization of the of launchers’ control systems by Roscosmos specialists yielded no positive results, and Russian-made squibs used in rocket and space technology fails to meet the design requirements. At the same time, this might meet mercantile interests of Russian officials pocketing billions on import substitution and modernization programs, and who are now desperately looking for scapegoats.
The situation is also confirmed by the Proton-M launcher case and the failed test of the Bulava ICBM.