Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Soyuz astronauts make emergency landing after rocket's boosters fail

U.S. astronaut Nick Hague right and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin crew members of the mission to the International Space Station wave as they board the rocket prior to the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome Kazakhs U.S., Russian Space Crew Heading Back To Earth After Booster Failure
Cary Marshall | 11 October, 2018, 16:16

U.S. astronaut Nick Hague, right, and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station wave as they board the rocket prior to the launch.

Two astronauts have landed safely in Kazakhstan after being forced to abort their mission to the International Space Station today.

"Teams have been in contact with the crew".

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA team are monitoring the situation carefully". "A state commission has been established to investigate the causes" of the failure, he added.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said all manned launches will be suspended pending an investigation into the cause of the failure.

Four helicopters have taken off from Kazakh bases to search for the Soyuz crew, according to RIA news agency citing local officials.

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

More news: Soyuz crew reportedly alive after emergency landing

A little more than an hour after launch, Dmitry Rogozin, chief of Roscosmos, the Russian space program, said on Twitter that the crew had been rescued.

This failure raises serious questions about the future of the International Space Station, as since the space shuttle's retirement in 2011 the Soyuz spacecraft and rocket were the only means by which crews have had to reach it.

Rescue crews are now heading towards the emergency landing site in the barren Kazakh steppe to provide support for the crew. The crew has now touched down in Kazakhstan, where they are being attended by search and rescue personnel.

Hague and Ovchinin were expected to spend six months on the station working on a range of scientific experiments.

Observers noted that the staging looked a bit odd, with the usual Korolev Cross (named for the designer of the ICBM on which the Soyuz booster is based) followed by what appeared to be debris as the stages separated.

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft is now the only vehicle for ferrying crews to the International Space Station following the retirement of the US space shuttle fleet. In the NASA TV live stream, the two appeared be jerked before the internal spacecraft video feed cut off.

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