Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Soyuz Space Crew Makes Emergency Landing After Terrifying Booster Failure

Two astronauts make emergency landing after Russian rocket malfunctions during lift-off Russia's Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft lifts off from the Baikanur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday | Kirill Kudryavtsev AFP
Sandy Nunez | 12 October, 2018, 03:01

The rocket was launched from the Soviet-era cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Those precious few minutes of elation in Peabody quickly turned into an agonizing wait, as NASA confirmed there had been a booster problem with the rocket and the crew had to make an emergency exit. They then started the process of flying back to the Baikonur Cosmodrome. 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.

Neither the United States nor Russian Federation will be able to send astronauts to the ISS until investigators determine why a Soyuz rocket experienced an anomaly after blastoff Thursday, complicating an already tricky launch calendar for 2019. Roscosmos has earned billions of dollars in fees ferrying astronauts into orbit since NASA retired its fleet of space shuttles in 2011.

"Scary, scary, scary - not what we wanted", one family member said. Hague and Ovchinin are out of the capsule and reported to be in good condition.

"I'm grateful that everyone is safe".

A NASA statement on the aborted launch stated: "NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA team are monitoring the situation carefully". Officials said they would suspend manned launches in the light of the new accident.

"A live broadcast of the launch showed the Russian-American crew experienced a sensation of weightlessness and spinning at booster separation, signaling a serious problem had occurred", Matthew Bodner told NPR's Newscast unit from Moscow.

The failure is a setback for the Russian space program and the latest in a string of mishaps.

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The Russian Soyuz rocket has malfunctioned on lift-off has landed safely in Kazahstan, Russian media report. Hague is an Air Force Colonel who completed his astronaut training in 2015.

For now, the United States relies on Moscow to carry its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) which was launched 20 years ago.

US astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin parachuted to the ground safely in their capsule after a booster on the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft failed, NASA and Russia's space agency said. The space station has enough food and supplies for the current crew to last six months, the Interfax news service reported, citing an unidentified person.

Hague and Ovchinin were travelling to the ISS to join three other crewmates for ISS Expedition 57. The trip to the station was to take them about six hours. Last month, the current ISS crew discovered a hole in the vessel that Russian Federation claims was drilled deliberately.

NASA mothballed the Space Shuttle program in 2011, and since then has been paying Russian Federation tens of millions of dollars to send their astronauts to the ISS.

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.

They were scheduled to remain up there until mid-December. 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". It has a design life of only 215 days, any longer than that and the vehicle's corrosive propellants will degrade their tanks.