Soyuz Crew Performs Ballistic Reentry After Booster Fails During Launch

Sergio Conner
October 12, 2018

A Soyuz rocket carrying a NASA astronaut and Russian cosmonaut made an emergency landing Thursday back on Earth after an issue with a booster, NASA said.

Nasa astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos's Alexei Ovchinin lifted off in a booster rocket, intending to travel to the International Space Station (ISS).

This morning, the first launch since the possible sabotage was discovered, Russia's Soyuz booster saw its first in-flight failure in recent memory, and the first manned rocket-related emergency in decades. What was expected to be a six-hour flight to the International Space Station was abruptly curtailed when the rocket reached an altitude of approximately 164,000 feet, at the cusp of space.

Unfortunately, an anomaly with the booster shortly after takeoff forced the rocketeers to abort their mission and make a "ballistic landing" back on Earth.

NASA and Roscosmos said search-and-rescue teams responded quickly to retrieve the crew members, whose spacecraft parachuted to Earth in an emergency landing in Kazakhstan. They were met by rescue teams in remote Kazakhstan more than 200 miles from their launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Dzhezkazgan is about 450 kilometres northeast of Baikonur.

The descent was sharper than usual, meaning the crew was subjected to a greater G-force, but they were prepared for this scenario in training, according to a commentator on NASA's video livestream of the launch. The Soyuz is the only way to get to and from the station.

This isn't the first time this has happened.

The rare failed launch of the Soyuz rocket is the latest and most grave problem to beset U.S.

"The crew has landed".

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"It's like shooting a bullet out of a rifle barrel", said NASA deputy chief astronaut Reid Wiseman during a press briefing.

A rescue mission was launched immediately, Nasa and the Russian Roscosmos space agency said.

The failure of the Soyuz MS-10 rocket immediately led to the grounding of the Soyuz fleet and will have cascading effects for USA and Russian space programs, along with their global partners.

Also, the December launch of the next crew members, which included Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, could be on indefinite hold, as could any other crewed launches that have been scheduled.

Sending astronauts to the ISS will be a first for a privately owned company.

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. Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov jettisoned and landed safely near the launch pad after the Soyuz explosion.

Only last month a hole was discovered in the International Space Station which Roscosmos claimed was drilled deliberately.

The crash comes after Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin accused Elon Musk of conspiring with the Pentagon to force other players out of the space industry and suggested that worldwide astronauts had sabotaged the ISS by drilling the hole found in its hull.

Glitches found in Russia's Proton and Soyuz rockets in 2016 were traced to manufacturing flaws at the plant in Voronezh.

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