Cosmonaut Ovchinin to continue work in Star City after Soyuz-FG failure

Two Russian and American astronauts had a lucky escape Thursday after the Russian Soyuz rocket that was meant to take them to the International Space Station suffered a malfunction after lift-off, sending their crew capsule hurtling back to earth.

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.

The rescue capsule automatically jettisoned from the booster and went into a ballistic descent, landing at a sharper than normal angle and subjecting the crew to heavy gravitational force.

NASA says two astronauts from the US and Russian Federation have been flown to the city of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan en route to Moscow after an emergency landing following the failure of a booster rocket carrying them to the International Space Station.

"Teams are working with our Russian partners to obtain more information about the issue with the booster from today's launch", the USA agency said.

"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.

Roscosmos pledged to fully share all relevant information with NASA, which pays up to $82 million per Soyuz seat to the space station.

USA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are counting down to their 4:40am ET Thursday launch to the station. During a news conference held yesterday, NASA personnel praised Hague's record as an astronaut but said it was too early to tell when he might get a new launch. All Soyuz flights, both manned and those carrying vital supplies such as food and equipment, have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

Recalling the moment Bridenstine realized something had gone awry with the launch, he said hearing Hague speak Russian confirmed his fears.

Returning to Earth in a Soyuz capsule is no walk in the park on a good day.

Ovchinin and Hague have returned to the Star City training centre outside Moscow where they will be under medical observation for two days.

"The station could fly in an unmanned mode, but will do all we can to avoid it", he said.

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques had been scheduled to be on the launch of a Soyuz spacecraft on December 20.

The doomed booster left Earth behind at 4:40 AM ET today (Oct. 11), and everything seemed fine for the first several minutes.

Russian and USA space officials said that the crew is heading for an emergency landing in Kazakhstan at an unspecified time. Russian activities in Ukraine, charges of interfering in the US presidential election of 2016 and the conflict in Syria are some of the main issues. The men were supposed to inspect a mysterious 2-millimeter hole found in the hull of a Soyuz module, docked at the space station.

  • Essie Rivera