Astronauts safe after failed space launch

Gwen Vasquez
October 11, 2018

Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague walk prior to the launch of the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft.

Two astronauts are alive after dramatically aborting their voyage to the International Space Station when their Russian Soyuz rocket malfunctioned. "Teams are working with our Russian partners to obtain more information about the issue with the booster from today's launch", the U.S. agency said. Hague and Ovchinin are out of the capsule and are reported to be in good condition.

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA team are monitoring the situation carefully", said NASA, in a statement released early Thursday.

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.

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

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who has been visiting Russian Federation and Kazakhstan in conjunction with today's launch, said he was "grateful that everyone is safe". Roscosmos, the Russian firm that operates the nation's space agency and is responsible for Soyuz launches, will not hold any news conferences today.

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Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, quoted by Interfax, said the problem occurred when the first and second stages of the booster rocket were in the process of separating.

The failure is the latest mishap for the Russian space programme, which has been dogged by a string of launch failures and other incidents.

The rocket was en route to the International Space Station (ISS).

It comes weeks after a hole was discovered in the International Space Station amid talk from the Russian space authorities of deliberate sabotage.

The mission was supposed to be Hague's first trip into space, and Ovchinin's second six-month stay at the station. As a result of the defect, the spacecraft would not be heading to the ISS, but instead return to Earth using a "ballistic descent mode". Both men appear understandably disappointed in the wake of what they just experienced, and the realization that they won't be headed to the International Space Station any time soon.

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, a back-up crew member, is part of the crew set for the next scheduled-Russian Soyuz launch in December.

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