Published: Fri, October 12, 2018

Emergency landing following Soyuz launch failure

Emergency landing following Soyuz launch failure

The contingency procedure sends the spacecraft carrying the crew on a "sharper angle of landing compared to normal", NASA said. Russian space agency Roscosmos confirmed several minutes later that Hague and Ovchinin had been forced to abort the launch and escape the failing booster in the Soyuz capsule.

Launched on October 11 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Soyuz MS-10 capsule carrying American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin is now attempting an emergency landing following booster failure.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:40PM AEDT last night.

This morning, the first launch since the possible sabotage was discovered, Russia's Soyuz booster saw its first in-flight failure in recent memory, and the first manned rocket-related emergency in decades. With Thursday's failed launch, just three people remain on the station, an American astronaut, Serena Auñón-Chancellor, the German Commander Alexander Gerst, and Russian Sergey Prokopyev.

The emergency protocols caused the two passengers to abort and sent them plummeting back down to Earth in what NASA calls a "ballistic descent" up to seven times the force of gravity.

American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin survived a harrowing emergency landing, following the failure of the Soyuz rocket booster carrying them to space, but what does this mean for the International Space Station? Safety of the crew is the utmost priority for NASA.

An interruption would also be disastrous for the research aboard the ISS, as the orbiting station serves as a scientific laboratory.

This is the first time a Soyuz craft has failed.

Spaceflight historian Gunter Krebs noted on Twitter that the situation reminded him of another Soyuz rocket failure in 1972, when "an in-flight booster failure occurred and the crew was rescued after ballistic re-entry". He added that space crew is trained to endure such load. But Russia would like to avoid mothballing the station, he said.

The Roscosmos Space Agency says it is forming a state commission to investigate the aborted launch.

In the event of a booster failure, mission control will normally cancel the flight to avoid endangering the astronauts on board. But these failures have been hard learning experiences for the company, which plans to launch its first crewed capsule in 2019.

Search and recovery teams had been predeployed to areas beneath the possible flight path. Helicopters were able to reach Haig and Ovchinin fairly quickly and extract them from the capsule.

The Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities known as Roscosmos had earlier tweeted pictures of the astronauts taking their place in the rocket.

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

The International Space Station, a rare point of cooperation between Moscow and Washington, has been orbiting the Earth at roughly 28,000 kilometres per hour since 1998 and will mark its 20th birthday in November.

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