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Soyuz T-10A: The First Crewed On-Pad Abort

26 Sep 2019, 11:42 UTC
Soyuz T-10A: The First Crewed On-Pad Abort
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Launch is one of the more dangerous phases of any crewed space mission. Sitting on top of a high-performance rocket filled with hundreds of metric tons of volatile propellants, a malfunction of even a small component during ascent can result in a catastrophic failure. For this reason, crewed spacecraft have usually included abort options during all phases of the ascent into orbit in case of a problem – the notable exceptions were the Soviet Voskhod (see “The Mission of Voskhod 1”) and the American Space Shuttle which had no survivable abort options available up to a couple of minutes after liftoff. The Soyuz, like the earlier American Mercury and Apollo spacecraft, has an LES (Launch Escape System) that uses a solid rocket motor on top of the spacecraft to pull the capsule carrying the crew safely from the launch vehicle in case of a malfunction during the earliest phases of the ascent. The only time an LES was employed operationally on a crewed flight was on September 26, 1983 for a mission that was originally to have been called “Soyuz T-10”.

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