Space crew survives plunge to Earth after Russian rocket fails

Space crew survives plunge to Earth after Russian rocket fails

Roscosmos, a Russian state corporation, and NASA on Thursday said the three-stage Soyuz booster rocket, which propelled their landing capsule, suffered an emergency shutdown of its second stage.

Commander Alexander Gerst was ready to welcome two new astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) - but ended up looking on helplessly as a catastrophic rocket failure sent the incoming crew falling back to Earth.

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. A Reuters reporter who observed the launch from around 1 kilometre away said it had gone smoothly in its initial stages and that the failure of the booster rockets must have occurred at higher altitude.

Two minutes after Hague and Ovchinin blasted off Thursday for the International Space Station, their rocket failed, triggering an emergency landing.

Search and rescue teams from Russian Federation arrived as soon as the spacecraft touched ground to assist the astronauts. The crew landed about 20 kilometers east of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, where rescue crews were scrambled to find them. The city is about 450 kilometers from the Russia's Baikonur space center, which Russian Federation operates through an agreement with the Republic of Kazakhstan. William Harwood of CBS reports that the ISS crew was scheduled to return on December 13, though they have the ability to stay in orbit longer if required.

The booster carrying them failed within two minutes of flight, forcing both astronauts to make a "steep ballistic descent", NASA said.

A state commission set up by Roscosmos to investigate the cause of the incidence is already hard at work assessing telemetry.

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If the Russian rockets remain grounded until it's time for the crew to come home, flight controllers could operate the station without anyone on board, Todd said.

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft is now the only vehicle for ferrying crews to the International Space Station following the retirement of the USA space shuttle fleet. It had a Russian cosmonaut and a USA astronaut on board.

Two astronauts made an emergency landing in Kazakhstan after the failure of Soyuz rocket.

Krikalyov pledged that the Russian space agency will do its best not to leave the orbiting outpost unoccupied.

The inability to send people into space means we could have an empty ISS in a couple of months, which hasn't happened since the station's first crew arrived in November of 2000. But it was not the first time that a manned Soyuz rocket has been forced to activate its launch abort system. -Russian co-operation in space, voicing hope that it wouldn't be affected by politics.

In coming years, American aerospace companies SpaceX, with its Dragon 2, and Boeing, with its Starliner, are expected to return to space.

In this photo made available by Roscosmos on Friday, Oct. 12.

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