Soyuz rocket failure could leave International Space Station without crew

Gwen Vasquez
October 12, 2018

Members of the International Space Station (ISS) expedition 57/58, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin board the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft prior to the launch in Kazakhstan on October 11, 2018.

USA astronaut Nick Hague, right and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, member of the main crew of the expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), speak prior to the launch of Soyuz MS-10 space ship at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018.

The emergency occurred as the first and second stages of a booster rocket separated shortly after launch from Kazakhstan's Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur.

Russia says it is suspending manned space launches pending a probe into a Russian booster rocket failure, raising questions about the fate of an upcoming launch that included a Canadian astronaut.

Search and rescue teams were scrambled to the touchdown location as NASA revealed the descent meant the Russian-built Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft had to take "a sharper angle of landing compared to normal".

Roscosmos and Nasa said the three-stage Soyuz booster suffered an emergency shutdown of its second stage. Most recently, a mysterious hole was detected on the Russian section of the ISS in August, and a Soyuz launch failure destroyed 18 satellites in November 2017.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists: "Thank God the cosmonauts are alive". Russian officials have also insisted on a bigger role in a USA -led plan to build a space station orbiting the moon.

The two astronauts were to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) six hours after the launch to join an American, a Russian and a German now aboard the station.

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Had the launch gone smoothly, Ovchinin and Hague would have reached the space station later today.

A Canadian astronaut's scheduled trip to the International Space Station is in limbo after the spacecraft he was to use failed and made an emergency landing in Kazakhstan.

Roscosmos says it is forming a state commission to investigate the aborted launch. He said failsafe systems operated properly by detaching the astronauts' capsule from the rocket and returning them to the ground. Search and rescue teams were immediately scrambled to recover the crew and paratroopers were dropped from a plane to reach the site and help the rescue effort. American Nick Hague and Russian Alexei Ovchinin were uninjured, Russian government officials said.

Russia's RIA news agency reported that Russian Federation has immediately suspended all manned space launches after the failure.

"There was an issue with the booster from today's launch", a NASA statement said.

September 27, 1983: A Soyuz rocket that was to carry Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov to a Salyut space station caught fire in the final seconds of the countdown at Baikonur. Russia's space agency Roscosmos said a blocked fuel duct was at fault.

The spacecraft experienced a booster failure just a couple of minutes after launching, resulting in a launch abort.

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