US, Russian astronauts land safely after rocket failure

Jo Lloyd
October 14, 2018

The american astronaut Nick Hague and the Russian Alexey Ovtchinine have landed and are unharmed after the failure shortly after takeoff one of the engines of the Soyuz rocket that was to carry them to the worldwide space Station (ISS).

Nasa astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos's Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled at 2.40pm local time from the Baikonur cosmodrome on a Soyuz booster rocket.

Minutes after the takeoff there was an anomaly with the booster and the launch was aborted, resulting in a ballistic landing of the spacecraft, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said.

An investigation is underway, and Bridenstine said he doesn't expect the next mission taking a crew to the space station in December to be delayed.

Russian Federation places rescue teams along the rocket's flight path just in case of such an emergency and they were able to reach the landing site by the time Soyuz MS-10 landed 34 minutes later. The astronauts were to dock at the space station six hours later and join an American, a Russian and a German on board. It separated from the third stage of the rocket early and fell to Earth in Russia's Tuva region. Safety of the crew is the utmost priority for NASA.

"The Soyuz-FG rocket designed for the launch of Progress MS-10 has been already assembled into a stack (the first and second stages of the rocket) at the Baikonur (cosmodrome)".

During the 1983 launch, the Soyuz hadn't quite launched when crewmembers had to quickly command the capsule's escape tower to activate after the booster rocket caught fire.

Bridenstine was at the launch and greeted them upon their return.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA team are carefully monitoring the situation together with Roscosmos.

Former Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk was the first Canadian to fly on a Soyuz capsule, when he travelled to the International Space Station in 2009 for a six-month mission.

While that was higher than normal they were trained to endure such loads, he added.

"We'll see if there's an impact on the launch manifest to the space station", he said from the agency headquarters in Longueuil, Que.

"I hope that the American side will treat it with understanding", he said.

Russian Federation now operates the only spacecraft for ferrying crews to the station following the retirement of the USA space shuttle fleet, but it stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of commercial US crew capsules - SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's Starliner. Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said the pair were likely to go into space in the spring.

He added that it will take about a week for the crew to fully recover. They landed on a snowy mountain slope and spent two nights in the cold before rescue crews reached them.

The Soviet-designed Soyuz rocket is now the world's only lifeline to the International Space Station and the accident will affect the work of the orbiting laboratory.

Glitches found in Russia's Proton and Soyuz rockets in 2016 were traced to manufacturing flaws.

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