Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Sci-tech | By Javier West

U.S., Russian astronauts make emergency landing after booster rocket fails

U.S., Russian astronauts make emergency landing after booster rocket fails

Russian news agencies reported that the crew had safely made an emergency landing and were in radio contact and that rescuers were en route to pick them up.

The space agency said American Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin weren't injured and crews reached them shortly after the booster malfunctioned at an undisclosed altitude 123 seconds into the launch sequence.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Avchinin were inside the Soyuz MS-10 capsule when the rocket carrying it had what NASA described as a booster separation problem.

"The Soyuz capsule is returning to Earth via a ballistic descent, which is a sharper angle of landing compared to normal".

A booster failure during a Soyuz rocket launch forced the two crew members to abort their mission to the International Space Station and return to Earth in the first such emergency landing for the Russian-built spacecraft since 1975. The space capsule landed near the Chinese border in deep snow about 20 minutes after launch.

The astronauts were flown by helicopter to Dzhezkazgan and then by plane to Baikonur.

"Thank god, the cosmonauts are alive", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. The launch was to have been Hague's first space mission.

Earlier this week, Bridenstine emphasized that collaboration with Russia's Roscosmos remains important.

After this morning's launch failed to reach orbit, the International Space Station is left with only three crewmembers aboard, commanded by German astronaut Alexander Gerst. The launch escape tower activated two seconds before the rocket below the crew exploded, ripping the Soyuz spacecraft away from the inferno as it engulfed the launch pad.

Russian officials said all manned space flight missions would be suspended until investigators figure out what went wrong.

Russian Federation has continued to rely on Soviet-designed booster rockets to launching commercial satellites, as well as crews and cargo to the International Space Station.

Glitches found in Russia's Proton and Soyuz rockets in 2016 were traced to manufacturing flaws at the plant in Voronezh. Despite its age, the Soyuz platform has been an extremely reliable mode of transportation to space.

"I strongly believe we're going to get the right answer to what caused the hole on the International Space Station and that together we'll be able to continue our strong collaboration", Bridenstine said on a visit to Moscow this week, according to the Associated Press. The leak was quickly repaired, but Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin suggested that the leak was caused by something other than an accident or production defect.

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