Science

Soyuz rocket carrying US, Russian astronauts to ISS malfunctions during launch

Soyuz rocket carrying US, Russian astronauts to ISS malfunctions during launch”

Astronauts aboard the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft survived an emergency landing following a booster failure, according to a Russian space official.

The crew contained American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin.

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.

Search and rescue teams reported they were in contact with the Soyuz crew, who said they were in good condition.

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

Search and rescue crews are heading to the landing site.

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

"Glad our friends are fine", space station commander Alexander Gerst, a European Space Agency astronaut from Germany, tweeted from orbit.

While there is another Soyuz capsule docked at the station, Hadfield said using it to send the current crew home would not be under consideration.

After their rescue, Hague and Ovchinin were set to be airlifted to a space flight training center outside of Moscow. But as the Soyuz is now the only way we have to get humans into space, this means new crew can't be sent to the ISS until Roscosmos is confident the issue has been identified and resolved.

They later clarified that the issue caused the boosters to switch off. The crew were able to carry out repairs and return to Earth six days later.

ABC News reported that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov announced that all manned launches will be suspended until the investigation is complete and the cause of the rocket's failure can be pin-pointed. Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov jettisoned and landed safely near the launch pad after the Soyuz explosion.

Russian Soyuz are now the only vehicle used to carry astronauts to the orbiting Space Station, after the USA retired its space shuttle fleet.

Thursday's aborted mission is another setback for Russia's space program. The mission would have been Hague's first space flight.

Speaking with reporters in Moscow before Thursday's launch, Bridenstine said that Russian-American cooperation in space remained strong, amid an investigation into the cause of the leak.

"An investigative group has been formed and officials are now examining the launch site, documents are being seized", the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

The landing location was in Kazakhstan, where the rocket took off, according to Russia's space agency Roscosmos.



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