The corrections to the Soyuz production after the ballistic re-entry of last October—extra insulation on a control cable that shorted out and checks on the explosive separation bolts on the propulsion and retro module that apparently didn’t separate properly—failed to be made to the latest Soyuz because it was already in orbit. The crew added insulation to the suspect control cable (duct tape, maybe?), but U.S. and Russian managers determined that the space walk to peel back insulation and check the wiring to the separation bolt pyrotechnics was riskier than just hoping everything would be okay.
It wasn’t, as we now know:
3 problems uncovered on Soyuz capsule | floridatoday.com | FLORIDA TODAY
Current reports indicate that the same two failures that caused the incident last year probably recurred Saturday, plus something in the control panel circuits seems to have filled the cabin with smoke during re-entry.
Both NASA and Russian managers continue to downplay the seriousness of the incident and the news reports of the Soyuz crew’s imminent peril have been dismissed by Russian officials.
As if to justify NASA’s steadfast confidence in the Russian investigation, a Russian space agency official offered a more practical explanation for the malfunction:
Basically, the presence of women on the spacecraft jinxed it….