NASA official: Tense moments but calm crew in aborted launch

NASA official: Tense moments but calm crew in aborted launch

NASA official: Tense moments but calm crew in aborted launch

Two minutes after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut were forced to make an emergency landing after the Russian-made Soyuz rocket malfunctioned.

US astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin parachuted to the ground safely in their capsule after a booster on the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft failed, NASA and Russia's space agency said.

NASA said flight controllers could operate the space station without anyone on board if the Russian rockets remain grounded.

The accident throws off the launch schedule for the ISS, as Russia's Soyuz is the only route up to the station for astronauts.

A source in the Russian space agency said that rescue workers had reached the crew.

U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin were heading to the International Space Station when they had to make an emergency landing due to failure of the booster rockets.

Sergei Krikalev, a senior Roscosmos official, said on Friday that Russian Federation may also delay a planned unmanned cargo shipment by a Progress spacecraft to the ISS.

The NASA commentator later said the crew was in good condition and communicating with rescue workers after landing east of the Kazakh city of Zhezkazgan. Today it has been shown again how great the Soyuz is: despite a misstart, the crew was safely brought back to Earth.

NASA has relied on Russian rockets to ferry astronauts to the space station since the United States retired its Space Shuttle program in 2011, although the agency has announced plans for a test flight carrying two astronauts on a SpaceX commercial rocket next April. The first meeting of the commission took place within hours after the mishap resulted in drawing a conclusion that a malfunction during the strap-on booster separation process was responsible for the failure.

"To keep space separate from the political environment has been our tradition and we want to keep that", said Bridenstine.

Russian officials said all manned space flight missions would be suspended until investigators figure out what went wrong.

Ovchinin spent six months on the station in 2016. In 2013, he joined NASA's astronaut corps and is the first member of his class to be assigned to a mission and fly into space, Wiseman said. Sergei Krikalev told reporters that part of the first stage of the rocket had struck the second stage after separating, damaging the booster. As you can see from video of the NASA livestream, early reports indicate that the booster failed minutes after liftoff.

In August, the space station crew found a hole had been drilled in the Soyuz capsule that caused a brief loss of air pressure before being patched. But the Russian space agency also considered the possibility of sabotage. Search and rescue teams went into action and retrieved the astronauts by helicopter.

Thursday's mission was supposed to transport a Russian Cosmonaut and American Astronaut to relieve members who are already aboard the International Space Station.

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin promised that Hague and Ovchinin will be given a chance soon to perform a stint on the orbiting outpost.

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