Emergency landing following Soyuz launch failure

Emergency landing following Soyuz launch failure

Emergency landing following Soyuz launch failure

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.

Footage from inside the rocket show the two men being shaken at the moment the fault occured, their arms and legs flailing.

The pair lifted off as scheduled at 2.40pm local time from the Baikonur cosmodrome on a Soyuz booster rocket.

This was the 139th launch of the Soyuz program and the first abort during ascent since 1975 when a failure in second-stage separation triggered emergency reentry 21 minutes after launch.

Search and rescue teams were heading to the area to recover the crew.

Because the Soyuz spacecraft did not reach orbit at the point of this booster failure, the crew was forced to make a rapid ballistic descent likely under high g-forces.

Moscow immediately suspended all manned space launches, the RIA news agency reported, while Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said he had ordered a state commission to be set up to investigate what had gone wrong.

Astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin were rescued without injuries in Kazakhstan.

Until a full investigation can be completed by Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, the Soyuz rocket is grounded. The contingency procedure sends the spacecraft carrying the crew on a "sharper angle of landing compared to normal", NASA said.

"Spaceflight is hard. And we must keep trying for the benefit of humankind", ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted from aboard the space station as he watched and photographed the launch from space.

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.

According to Nasa, the crew is returned to Earth inside the Soyuz capsule "in a ballistic descent mode". Ovchinin and Hague were both traveling to the ISS to join the three astronauts now aboard - Gerst, NASA's Serena Auñón-Chancellor, and Roscosmos' Sergey Prokopyev.

Thursday's failure was the first manned launch failure for the Russian space program since September 1983 when a Soyuz exploded on the launch pad. Ovchinin spent six months on the International Space Station in 2016. NASA and Roscosmos will now need to make an unprecedented decision which could lead to abandoning the International Space Station; the first time it would be left unmanned since the Expedition 1 mission arrived in November 2000. "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, as reported by the Associated Press. He didn't say if he suspected any of the current crew of three Americans, two Russians and a German aboard the station of malfeasance.

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