Soyuz MS-25 Lifts Off on Second Try

Soyuz MS-25 Lifts Off on Second Try

Russia’s Soyuz MS-25 spacecraft lifted off on time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome this morning, two days after the first attempt aborted at T-20 seconds. The delay means the three crew members — a Russian, an American and a spaceflight participant from Belarus — need to take a different route to the International Space Station that will last two days instead of three hours. They will arrive on Monday morning.

Liftoff was at 8:36 am ET from Baikonur, Russia’s launch site in Kazakhstan.

Soyuz MS-25 lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 23, 2024, two days after the launch aborted at T-20 seconds. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

On Thursday, a voltage drop on an electrical connection to the rocket at T-20 seconds caused an automated abort of the Soyuz 2.1a rocket. The crew was safely extricated from the capsule about an hour later.

Although last-minute launch aborts are not uncommon with U.S. rockets, they are extremely rare with Russia’s. Only three flights in the history of the Soviet/Russian human spaceflight program have aborted on the pad minutes before launch — Soyuz 4 in 1969, Soyuz T-10 in 1983, and this one. Two others aborted after liftoff — Soyuz 18 in 1975 and Soyuz MS-10 in 2018.

According to Anatoly Zak at, Vladimir Shatalov “became the first Soviet cosmonaut who had had to leave his spacecraft after an aborted launch attempt” on January 13, 1969. His Soyuz 4 flight was canceled 5 minutes before liftoff due to the failure of the rocket’s gyroscopic system. Shatalov launched the next day and the Soyuz 4/Soyuz 5 mission went ahead as planned, the first time Soviet cosmonauts spacewalked from one vehicle to the other.

On September 26, 1983, Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov were in their Soyuz T-10 spacecraft atop the rocket when it caught fire. The Soyuz emergency escape tower pulled them safely away from the pad just before the rocket exploded. They were OK and both later made other spaceflights.

The two in-flight anomalies were in 1975 and 2018.

On April 5, 1975, Soyuz 18 lifted off enroute to the Soviet space station Salyut 4 with cosmonauts Vasiliy Lazarev and Oleg Makarov. Their Soyuz booster suffered a third stage failure and they landed in Siberia just 320 kilometers north of the Chinese border. The crew experienced very high G forces and the spacecraft tumbled down a mountainside. Lazerev suffered significant injuries and never flew again, but Makarov flew twice more. This mission is often referred to as the “April 5th Anomaly.”

On October 11, 2018, Soyuz MS-10 lifted off with Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague headed to the ISS, but one of the four strap-on rockets hit the core stage when it separated about three minutes into flight and the rocket exploded. As with Soyuz T-10, automated systems instantly separated the crew capsule and propelled them safely away from the rocket. They landed in Kazakhstan about 400 kilometers from the launch site. Rescue teams quickly arrived and brought them back to Baikonur. The duo flew to the ISS five months later on Soyuz MS-12 along with NASA’s Christina Koch.

By comparison, Thursday’s scrub was pretty tame for the three-person crew: Oleg Novitsky and Tracy Dyson from the Roscosmos and NASA astronaut corps, and Marina Vasilevskaya, a flight attendant from Belarus. She is the first female Belarussian cosmonaut and was selected after a competition. She is the first Belarussian in space since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Like Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, Belarus declared its independence in 1991, although it remains a very close Russian ally. Pyotr Klimuk was the first Belarussian in space during the Soviet era, making three flights between 1991 and 2003.

Soyuz MS-25 crew: Tracy Dyson (NASA astronaut), Oleg Novitsky (Roscosmos cosmonaut), Marina Vasilevskaya (Belarussian spaceflight participant). Photo credit: NASA

Because the ISS and Baikonur are now in different relative positions, the crew has to take 34 orbits to get there instead of two. If they’d launched on Thursday they would have arrived about three hours later.  Instead it will be two days, docking on Monday at 11:09 am ET.

Usually ISS crews come and go together on the same spacecraft, but in this case Novitsky and Vasilevskaya are staying only for 12 days. Dyson, however, is replacing NASA’s Loral O’Hara who arrived on Soyuz MS-24 about 6 months ago. O’Hara will return with Novitsky and Vasilevskaya on Soyuz MS-24 on April 6. Her Soyuz MS-24 crewmates, Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub, are staying for a 1-year mission and will return with Dyson on Soyuz MS-25 in the fall.


This article has been updated.

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