Incorrectly installed sensors have been blamed for the crash of a Russian Proton-M launched on July 2nd, 2013.
Investigators have determined that “critical angular velocity sensors” were installed upside down on the Proton-M rocket ship which was carrying a payload of 3 satellites that would join the GLONASS navigation constellation to help develop a GPS network for Russian citizens.
The rocket which was launched on July 2nd came crashing to Earth at 6:38AM local time after ground crews received extremely erratic readings, and were unable to successfully correct its trajectory because of conflicting reactions. The sensors were supposed to point towards the top of the ship, but were installed in reverse, making it impossible at the time for them to figure out what was really going on.
By July 9, it is transpired that investigators sifting through the wreckage of the doomed rocket had found critical angular velocity sensors, DUS, installed upside down. Each of those sensors had an arrow that was suppose to point toward the top of the vehicle, however multiple sensors on the failed rocket were pointing downward instead. As a result, the flight control system was receiving wrong information about the position of the rocket and tried to “correct” it, causing the vehicle to swing wildly and, ultimately, crash. The paper trail led to a young technician responsible for the wrong assembly of the hardware, but also raised serious issues of quality control at the Proton’s manufacturing plant, at the rocket’s testing facility and at the assembly building in Baikonur. It appeared that no visual control of the faulty installation had been conducted, while electrical checks had not detected the problem since all circuits had been working correctly.
Quality Control is up for question and authorities are now pursuing legal action to see what can be done to penalize those not paying attention to safety before missions like these.
[Cover Photo: The Times]