Soyuz MS-14 Docking Aborted, Will Try Again on Tuesday (Moscow Time)

Soyuz MS-14 Docking Aborted, Will Try Again on Tuesday (Moscow Time)

The automated docking of the uncrewed Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) was aborted this morning   As it approached the ISS, it began slewing and the two Russian cosmonauts monitoring its arrival briefly lost sight of it.  The crew was not in danger, but Russian flight controllers decided to abort the docking while they determined what was wrong.  Another attempt will be made on Tuesday, August 27, Moscow Time (11:12 pm Monday EDT).

Soyuz MS-14 was launched on Wednesday at 11:38 pm EDT (Thursday, 9:38 am local time at the launch site in Kazakhstan). No people are aboard, just an instrumented robot, FEDOR (or Skybot F-850).  It was scheduled to dock with ISS at 1:31 am ET today, but the attempt was aborted at 1:36 am ET.

Russia is switching Soyuz crew spacecraft launches from one version of the Soyuz rocket (Soyuz FG) to another (Soyuz 2.1a) and wants to test the launch abort system before putting a crew on-board.  Soyuz MS-14 is also testing new navigation and propulsion systems for docking with ISS.

The new systems apparently are not the problem. Instead, Russian engineers determined that a power amplifier in the KURS automated docking system aboard ISS failed. Russia’s space state corporation Roscosmos initially said its ISS cosmonauts, Aleksey Ovchinin, who is currently in command of ISS, and Alexander Skvortsov, would replace and test it before another attempt is made, but those plans changed.

Roscosmos tweeted that the crew will move a different Soyuz spacecraft (MS-13) from one port to another so Soyuz MS-14 can dock there instead.  That maneuver is scheduled for Monday and another docking attempt for Tuesday (both in Moscow Time).

Moving Soyuz spacecraft from one port to another is not unprecedented.  A Soyuz spacecraft can accommodate three crew members, each with a form-fitted seat liner. Skvortsov’s Soyuz MS-13 crew mates — “Skvortsov crew” in the tweet — are NASA’s Drew Morgan and ESA’s Luca Parmitano.  They arrived at ISS on July 20.  All three are expected to be in Soyuz MS-13 to take the ride from one port to another just in case something goes awry with the redocking and they need to return to Earth instead.  The other three ISS crew members have Soyuz MS-12 as their ride home.

Soyuz MS-14 executed the abort command properly and is now at a safe distance above and behind the ISS waiting for the next attempt.

CBS News space correspondent Bill Harwood live-tweeted (@cbs_spacenews) and later posted a summary of the sometimes tense moments as events unfolded.  He reports that NASA Mission Control in Houston contacted the other four astronauts on ISS to make sure they were awake and gave them permission to “open windows for situational awareness if needed” after visual contact with the Soyuz was temporarily lost.

NASA’s Christina Koch, Drew Morgan, and Nick Hague, and ESA’s Luca Parmitano are the four crew members on the “U.S. Orbital Segment” (USOS) of ISS.  ISS is comprised of the USOS and the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS) plus a variety of “visiting vehicles” that come and go to deliver cargo and crew.

International Space Station Configuration August 24, 2019. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft and Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-12 and MS-13 crew ships. Source: NASA.

Chris Bergin of (not a NASA website) and Anatoly Zak of also live tweeted events (@NASASpaceflight and @RussianSpaceWeb) and posted summaries on their websites. Roscosmos posted official statements on its website  ( in addition to tweets (@roscosmos). NASA’s account can be found on its ISS blog ( and ISS Twitter feed (@Space_Station).

Updated twice to clarify that all three Soyuz MS-13 crew members are expected to be aboard when the spacecraft is moved from one port to another, to clarify time zones, and to update the plan.

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