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Russian investigators say last month’s launch of a Soyuz rocket carrying two spacefliers to the International Space Station went awry because a sensor that was bent during the rocket’s assembly spoiled the separation of one of its boosters.

When the damaged sensor malfunctioned, the booster didn’t separate cleanly from the Soyuz’s core, throwing the rocket off course and forcing an abort sequence just minutes into the Oct. 11 ascent. The Soyuz crew capsule was thrown clear of the rocket and made a parachute-aided descent. Thanks to the escape system, NASA’s Nick Hague and Russia’s Alexey Ovchinin made a safe landing in Kazakhstan.

Space station managers worried that the failure might force an extended suspension of Soyuz flights. But Russia’s Roscosmos space agency said three other spacefliers — NASA’s Anne McClain, Canada’s David Saint-Jacques and Russia’s Oleg Kononenko — would be launched to the station on Dec. 3.

That’s assuming that three uncrewed Soyuz rocket launches scheduled between now and then go off without a hitch. Those missions include two satellite launches, on Nov. 3 and Nov. 6, and a robotic Progress cargo resupply mission on Nov. 16.

In a mission update posted today, NASA said it was “working closely” with Roscosmos on future crew launch plans. Those plans presumably include rescheduling a flight for Hague and Ovchinin.

The next few weeks will be marked by a number of comings and goings at the station. In addition to the Progress cargo shipment, Japan’s robotic HTV-7 resupply ship is due to be set loose for disposal on Nov. 7, and Northrop Grumman is scheduled to launch a Cygnus cargo carrier on Nov. 15.

Today’s findings about the sensor damage could add to quality concerns about Russian space hardware. In August, the space station crew had to deal with a worrisome air leak in a Soyuz capsule that was docked to the station. The leak was traced to a hole apparently drilled in the Soyuz’s hull.

Kononenko and one of the station’s three current crew members, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, are due to inspect the leak from the outside during a Dec. 11 spacewalk.

Assuming everything goes smoothly, Prokopyev and two other spacefliers, NASA’s Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Germany’s Alexander Gerst, would ride the patched-up Soyuz back down to Earth on Dec. 20, leaving the three freshly arrived crew members on the station.

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