Astronauts ‘safe’ after Russian rocket malfunctions following launch to ISS

Olive Hawkins
October 11, 2018

NASA's Nick Hague, flying for the first time, and Aleksey Ovchinin of Roscosmos blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan just before 10am.

US 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, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018.

They were to dock at the International Space Station six hours later, but the booster suffered engine failure minutes after the launch.

The US space agency Nasa said there was an "issue with the booster".

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"Teams have confirmed the spacecraft separated from the booster and are in contact with the crew as the capsule returns in a ballistic decent mode".

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, a back-up crew member, is part of the crew set for the next scheduled-Russian Soyuz launch in December.

Four helicopters have taken off from Kazakh bases to search for the Soyuz crew, according to RIA news agency citing local officials. Hague and Ovchinin will spend about six months living and working aboard the orbiting lab. The current Soyuz on the ISS, Soyus MS-09, launched in June and has an orbital lifetime of about 200 days.

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