It was deja vu for the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos. Less than a minute before its planned launch to the International Space Station, the Progress MS-08 cargo mission was scrubbed. The issue appeared similar in nature to one that occurred in October 2017.
Launch atop a Soyuz 2.1a booster was to have taken place at 3:58 a.m. EST (08:58 GMT) Feb. 11, 2018, from launch pad 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Just like in October, the flight was to test out a new super-fast rendezvous profile to arrive at the ISS within two orbits, or about 3.5 hours.
“Russian flight controls and launch engineers down at the Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan are evaluating the data to see what happened and what corrective action would be taken in order to permit a launch,” said mission commentator Rob Navias on NASA TV.
It is unclear when the next launch opportunity will occur, although Roscosmos has a reserve date of Feb. 13 allocated. When the previous Progress incurred a similar scrub on the same launch pad, it finally took to the skies two days later.
Also just like the October 2017 flight, when the spacecraft does launch, it will now take a much-longer 34-orbit rendezvous as the precise orbital alignment necessary for the fast-track are no longer available.
The Feb. 11 countdown proceeded smoothly until the abort. At around 35 seconds before the planned liftoff time, the first of two umbilical towers were retracted as planned. Just like four months ago, the second, smaller tower was supposed to retract around the 12-second mark to trigger the launch ignition sequence. This did not happen, and the engines did not ignite.
According to Roscosmos, Progress MS-08 is set to deliver some 1,390 kilograms of dry cargo, 890 kilograms of fuel, 420 kilograms of water, and 46 kilograms of oxygen to the outpost for Expedition 54. It will dock with the aft port of the Zvezda service module.
NOTE: While this article was written by Derek Richardson, it was originally published at SpaceFlight Insider. Feel free to head over there to read all the stuff they write about!