Monday, 10 December, 2018

U.S., Russian astronauts make emergency landing after booster rocket fails

Soyuz-FG rocket booster blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome carrying the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft with Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague of the ISS Expedition 57/58 prime crew aboard to the International Space Station (IS Soyuz crew reportedly alive after emergency landing
Cary Marshall | 12 October, 2018, 00:18

The astronauts were to dock at the International Space Station six hours after the launch, but the Soyuz booster suffered an unspecified failure and shut down minutes after the launch.

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster which carries the Soyuz MS-10 capsule is pictured on its way to the International Space Station.

Glover, the NASA astronaut at the bar, received word that the astronauts were making a "ballistic descent", a much steeper and faster return to Earth than what is ideal - but that search-and-rescue crews were in contact with the astronauts.

The astronauts were flown by helicopter to Dzhezkazgan and then by plane to Baikonur.

Photographs released by Roscosmos after the rescue showed the two astronauts smiling and relaxing on sofas at a town near their landing site as they underwent blood pressure and cardiac tests.

"Shortly after launch, there was an anomaly with the booster and the launch ascent was aborted, resulting in a ballistic landing of the spacecraft", the United States space agency said in a statement.

Hague and Ovchinin, the crew of Expedition 57, had planned to complete a four-orbit, 6-hr. journey to the ISS. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft was set to head to the ISS this week on a resupply mission with two astronauts onboard.

However, in the meantime, this failure has a number of consequences for the agencies and the crew aboard the space station.

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Dmitry Rogozin, a Russian space chief, tweeted: "The crew has landed". It has a design life of only 215 days, any longer than that and the vehicle's corrosive propellants will degrade their tanks.

Returning to Earth in a Soyuz capsule is no walk in the park on a good day.

Russia's Investigative Committee said a criminal probe would seek to determine whether safety regulations had been violated during construction, causing major damage. China has a human space flight capability, but it has no crew missions planned before 2020, and NASA is barred by Congress from working with the Chinese Space Agency. Most recently, a mysterious hole was detected on the Russian section of the ISS in August, and a Soyuz launch failure destroyed 18 satellites in November 2017.

"That relationship is strong, and whatever happens terrestrially, we've always been able to keep space exploration and discovery and science separate from whatever terrestrial disputes there may be", he said.

NASA and Roscosmos officials say they are launching an investigation into exactly what went wrong with the rocket and why.

The last time the Russian space program had a manned launch failure was in 1983.

Rogozin was flying to the scene of the emergency landing, the space agency said.

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