American and Russian astronaut rescued after emergency landing following rocket booster malfunction

Olive Hawkins
October 11, 2018

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying astronaut Nick Hague of the USA and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russian Federation blasted off from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday - before the mission was aborted.

An Antonov-12 transport plane was dispatched to drop a rescue team at the site, where helicopters were expected to pick up the astronauts, Interfax said.

Russian news agencies reported that the crew had safely made an emergency landing and were in radio contact and that rescuers were en route to pick them up.

Their ride aboard the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft was originally scheduled to last 6.5 hours.

Over the past few years the Russian space industry has suffered a series of problems including the loss of a number of satellites and other spacecraft. They will be transported to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia outside of Moscow.

Two astronauts are alive after dramatically aborting their voyage to the International Space Station when their Russian Soyuz rocket malfunctioned.

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NASA said there was "an issue with the booster" and that "the crew was returning to Earth in a ballistic descent mode". Roscosmos has earned billions of dollars in fees ferrying astronauts into orbit since NASA retired its fleet of space shuttles in 2011.

Hague was born in the same year the USA and the Soviet Union launched their first joint space mission, the Apollo-Soyuz, or Soyuz-Apollo mission in 1975. With Thursday's failed launch, just three people remain on the station, an American astronaut, Serena Auñón-Chancellor, the German Commander Alexander Gerst, and Russian Sergey Prokopyev.

Ovchinin spent six months on the station in 2016.

"To clarify the cause of the accident at the Soyuz-FG LV, by my decision, a state commission was formed", Rogozin tweeted.

The last failure of a Soyuz in flight was 18a in 1975, which subjected the crew to forces up to 21G as the capsule was flung back to earth after the stages of the booster failed to separate properly. NASA's own transportation system, the commercial crew vehicles under development by SpaceX and Boeing, have yet to take uncrewed test flights to the station, and those are unlikely to occur before early 2019.

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