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Russian aircraft disintegrates in midair before crash over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula

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Cairo: The Russian aircraft disintegrated in midair before it crashed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, state-run Ahram newspaper reported on Sunday.

Ahram said an official with Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee said in an interview with Russian RIA-Novosti news agency that the disintegration happened in the air and the fragments are strewn over a large area.

Russian Chief of invitation panel Viktor Sorochenko said it was too early to determine the cause of the tragic accident.

Sorochenko leads an international committee made up of experts from Russia, Egypt, France and Ireland to probe into the incident. The investigation has begun early on Sunday, starting with analyzing the plane’s two black box data recorders, which have been recovered late Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Forensic Medicine Authority (FMA) started to deliver the bodies of the victims of the Russian plane to the Russian Embassy in Cairo and victims’ relatives.

As many as 187 dead bodies were found so far in the scene of the crash, the official MENA news agency reported.

Initial investigation showed that there were no eyewitnesses despite some videos of the accident posted online that were found fake.

The Egyptian cabinet said on Sunday that the search was widened after finding bodies scattered across eight square km.

A Russian airliner, with 224 passengers and crew, crashed into a mountainous area in the restive Sinai on Saturday.

A militant group affiliated to the Islamic State in Egypt claimed responsibility for the crash, but the claim could not be verified.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said on Saturday it was impossible to determine the cause of the Russian plane crash until the black box was examined.

“Experts asserted that a plane flying that high technically cannot be shot down,” Ismail said, adding that no “irregular” activities were believed to be behind it.

 (IANS)

(Photo: CNN)

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The Aborted Mission To Relaunch In December: NASA

In August, a hole appeared in a Soyuz capsule docked to the ISS that caused a brief loss of air pressure and had to be patched.

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Russian Rocket
Astronaut Anne McClain, left, is seen during training at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, Texas. VOA

The American astronaut who will hitch the first ride on a Russian rocket since last month’s aborted launch and dramatic emergency landing is confident that her scheduled trip in December on a rocket that she calls a “workhorse” will go smoothly.

Astronaut Anne McClain, along with a Russian cosmonaut and a Canadian astronaut, will man the Dec. 3 mission. It will be the Russian-made Soyuz-FG’s first crewed flight since Oct. 11, when U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and a Russian cosmonaut landed unharmed on the Kazakh desert steppe after the rocket bound for the International Space Station failed in mid-air two minutes after liftoff.

NASA, rocket
Specialists watch broadcasts from the Soyuz spacecraft showing astronaut David Saint-Jacques of Canada, Oleg Kononenko of Russia and astronaut Anne McClain of the U.S. attending the final qualification training for their upcoming space mission in Star City near Moscow, Russia. VOA

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has relied on Russian rockets to ferry astronauts to the space station since the United States retired its Space Shuttle program in 2011, though the agency has announced plans for test flights carrying two astronauts on commercial rockets made by Boeing and SpaceX next April.

“I do see the incident that happened on Oct. 11 with our launch abort not as a failure but as a success,” McClain told Reuters in a telephone interview from Russia. “It actually bolsters my confidence in the rocket and in the processes that we have.

“We’re confident in the vehicle and getting back to it,” McClain said of the Soyuz rocket, which she called “the workhorse of the space program.”

After lifting off from Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur last month, a damaged sensor caused one of the rocket’s three booster stages to separate improperly, falling inward on the rocket and jolting it off its ascent two miles above ground, Russian investigators announced earlier this month.

Russian Rocket
The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying the crew of astronaut Nick Hague of the U.S. and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russia blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. VOA

During Assembly

Video from inside the capsule showed the two men being shaken around at the moment the failure occurred, their arms and legs flailing. Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin can be heard saying, “That was a quick flight.”

The accident was the first serious launch problem experienced by a crewed Soyuz space mission since 1983, when a crew narrowly escaped before a launchpad explosion.

Also Read: NASA Grants $7 Mn For New Life Detection

In August, a hole appeared in a Soyuz capsule docked to the ISS that caused a brief loss of air pressure and had to be patched. Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, has said that it could have been made deliberately by someone during manufacturing or while the craft was in space.

McClain and two other crewmates will launch from the same launchpad in Baikonur, joining the space station’s current three-person crew. (VOA)