US, Russian astronauts safe after emergency landing

US, Russian astronauts safe after emergency landing

A view shows the Soyuz capsule transporting USA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin, after it made an emergency landing following a failure of its booster rockets, near the city of Zhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan October 11, 2018. "And it can absolutely humble you".

"NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are in good condition following today's aborted launch". 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.

Russia's TASS news agency said the capsule carrying the two men separated from the troubled rocket safely. A "launch escape system" - a rocket mounted above the capsule - pulled the capsule away from the rocket seconds before an explosion.

A recording of communications between the space station and NASA stated that Hague and Ovchinin had experienced 6.7 G's - about the same as Apollo astronauts felt during re-entry, according to Air & Space magazine. Parachutes helped slow the returning capsule. They were due to return to Earth in December, but may now be stuck there longer.

"We will try to bring forward the launch of a new crew", Sergei Krikalyov, executive director of the Russian space agency, told reporters. Thursday's accident led NASA officials to acknowledge that they and their partners might need to bring everyone home and hope that the station can function safely with no one onboard, relying exclusively on commands from the ground.

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.

On the orbiting space station, the three crew members were kept informed of the events on Earth. Interfax also said all uncrewed launches could be halted for the rest of the year, citing space program sources.

Russia is now under pressure to prove its space program is safe and received a boost on Friday when NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said he had full confidence in Russian-made Soyuz rockets and expected US astronauts to fly on them again.

Russian officials said they were launching a criminal investigation into the accident, the first such incident on a manned flight in the country's post-Soviet history.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential vote, but Russia and the US have maintained cooperation in space.

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In August 1983, Soyuz 7K-ST No.16L meant to visit the Salyut 7 space station had an on-pad abort when the capsule pulled away from an exploding booster.

Moscow says the hole is the result of deliberate drilling and has suggested sabotage, while the USA space agency said earlier this week that investigators will determine the cause.

Other failures have been blamed on corruption within the manufacturing process of the rockets. They said Soyuz landed near the city of Zhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov, who oversees space flight, promised to share all information from the investigation with the United States. "But we have confidence that our Russian colleagues will figure out what's going on and we'll hopefully see Nick and Aleksei in orbit at the space station soon".

"You can look back at the decisions that were made, like retiring the shuttle, like Congress not providing the funding in the first years of commercial crew, which has delayed the availability of SpaceX and Boeing".

The Kremlin said experts were working to determine what caused the rocket failure.

International Space Station commander Alexander Gerst says he is grateful two astronauts are doing well after an exceedingly rare and harrowing launch abort ended their journey toward the orbiting laboratory.

"The station could fly in an unmanned mode, but will do all we can to avoid it", he said.

However, Thursday's incident was the first manned launch failure since 1983 when a Soyuz rocket exploded in the launch area.

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.

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