Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
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Astronauts make emergency landing after escaping malfunctioning rocket

Astronauts make emergency landing after escaping malfunctioning rocket

The two astronauts are making an emergency landing after a Russian booster rocket carrying them into orbit to the International Space Station has failed after launch.

NASA rookie astronaut Nick Hague and second-time flyer Aleksey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency landed without injuries, the Interfax news agency reported.

But the three-stage Soyuz booster suffered an unspecified failure of its second stage about two minutes after launching.

Helicopters were able to reach Hague and Ovchinin fairly quickly and get them out of the capsule. They then started the process of flying back to the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Russian Federation has set up a state commission to investigate the Soyuz booster rocket failure.

NASA has been depending on Russia's spacecraft and launch hardware ever since the retirement of its space shuttles in 2011.

In statements by both Russian Federation and NASA the crew is said to be in "good condition", and no serious injuries have been reported. The astronauts were exposed to increased g-force during the descent, but were otherwise unharmed.

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said no further manned missions would take place "until we believe that the entire situation guarantees safety".

Now, American companies SpaceX and Boeing are working to launch their first crewed missions to space.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is on site at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where he had been on hand to watch the launch and meet with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Rogozin.

"I'm grateful that everyone is safe".

NASA officials now must decide how or whether to maintain a US presence on the $100 billion orbital research laboratory as Roscosmos investigates the cause of the rocket's malfunction. Roscosmos also announced it is forming a commission to investigate the cause of the booster failure.

In 1975, Oleg Makarov and Vasily Lazarev made a successful emergency landing in Siberia's Altai mountains following problems during booster separation.

The launch failure marks an unprecedented mishap for the Russian space program, which has been dogged by a string of other incidents.

The rare failed launch of the Soyuz rocket is the latest and most grave problem to beset U.S. Hague is an Air Force Colonel who completed his astronaut training in 2015. NASA has Soyuz seats booked until November 2019, after which it hopes to use private USA companies such as SpaceX and Boeing to ferry its astronauts up and down.

The International Space Station - a rare point of cooperation between Moscow and Washington - has been orbiting the Earth since 1998. The trip to the station was to take them about six hours. "The ISS crew members now in-orbit have been notified of the launch contingency". That leaves NASA dependent on Russian Federation and its Soyuz rockets until then.

UPDATE 2: the two astronauts have been recovered and they are safe.

David Saint-Jacques is scheduled to co-pilot the capsule December 20 and become the first Canadian at the orbiter since now-retired astronaut Chris Hadfield returned to Earth in 2013. It has a design life of only 215 days, any longer than that and the vehicle's corrosive propellants will degrade their tanks.

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