Watch NASA Discuss Today's Astronaut Launch Failure at Noon ET

Watch NASA Discuss Today's Astronaut Launch Failure at Noon ET

A US-Russia mission to the International Space Station hit a snag on Thursday when a Russian Soyuz rocket carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin malfunctioned during its ascent and the two-person crew made an emergency landing.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Alexei Ovchinin were subjected to heavy gravitational forces as their capsule automatically jettisoned from the Soyuz booster rocket and fell back to Earth at a sharper-than-normal angle and landed about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of the city of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

Their arms and legs flail while being shaken around at he moment the failure occurred.

The launch took place at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:40 pm.

The occupants of the capsule located at the tip of the rocket were scheduled to undertake a six-hour journey to the International Space Station (ISS), where they would meet Expedition 57 crewmates Alexander Gerst, Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, and Sergey Valerievich.

Search and rescue crews retrieved the crew, returning them to Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

Thursday's mishap was the first serious launch problem experienced by a manned Soyuz space mission since 1983, when a crew narrowly escaped before a launchpad explosion.

Soyuz is one of the oldest rocket designs but also one of the safest.

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

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Russian controllers told the space station astronauts that Hague and Ovchinin endured 6.7 times the force of gravity during their entry.

NASA officials now must decide how or whether to maintain a US presence on the $100 billion orbital research laboratory as Roscosmos investigates the cause of the rocket's malfunction.

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin said he had ordered a state commission to carry out an investigation into what went wrong. Russian space agency Roscosmos has released photographs of both astronauts being checked over after their abrupt landing.

But wait a second, you may say: doesn't NASA have the Orion crew capsule?

These will be the first crewed missions to launch from American soil since 2011 and, while the issues with the Soyuz MS-10 mission will likely be resolved by then, this will allow for increased access to space and reduce dependency. Roscosmos, the Russian firm that operates the nation's space agency and is responsible for Soyuz launches, will not hold any news conferences today. The crew was able to abort, and their capsule proceeded on a ballistic reentry which touched down shortly thereafter. Last month, the current ISS crew discovered a hole in the vessel that Russian Federation claims was drilled deliberately.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who watched the launch at Baikonur tweeted that Hague and Ovchinin are in good condition.

There are a few potential alternatives to leaving the ISS without a crew for the first time in almost 20 years, but given the risk-adverse nature of human spaceflight, it seems unlikely NASA or Roscosmos will want to tempt fate on any of them.

It can hold a crew of up to six people and at present has three people aboard, two men - a German and a Russian - as well as one female USA astronaut.

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