Russian Federation opens criminal probe over failed rocket launch

12 Octobre, 2018, 00:21 | Auteur: Therese Cote

-Russian crew of a Soyuz spacecraft en route to the International Space Station was forced to make a dramatic emergency landing in Kazakhstan on Thursday when their rocket failed in mid-air.

For years, since NASA's final shuttle mission launched in 2011, the USA has relied on Russian rockets to send astronauts to the International Space Station, which is largely funded by America taxpayer dollars.

Hague and Ovchinin launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:40 a.m. ET, heading to join the crew of the International Space Station.

USA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin landed safely in remote Kazakhstan after a booster on the Soyuz MS-10 rocket failed, NASA said. Cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov separated the capsule and landed safely near the launchpad.

Search and recovery teams had been predeployed to areas beneath the possible flight path. Helicopters were able to reach Haig and Ovchinin fairly quickly and extract them from the capsule.

NASA and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, pledged a thorough investigation after the aborted launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket. Hague and Ovchinin are being taken from their emergency landing site to Moscow.

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

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The descent profile for a ballistic descent is significantly steeper than the trajectory taken by astronauts returning from the space station under normal conditions. He didn't say if he suspected any of the current crew - an American, a Russian and a German aboard the station.

It said there was an issue with "the booster from today's launch".

NASA coordinated a private event at Peabody's Coneburg Inn exclusively for Hague's extended family, sending astronaut Victor Glover to be a personal envoy to the family there.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov, who oversees space flight, promised to share all information from the investigation with the United States and said that manned space launches would be suspended until the end of the probe, according to Russian news agencies.

NASA, however, is planning to launch manned missions from US soil in the coming years. "Today showed again what an wonderful vehicle the Soyuz is, to be able to save the crew from such a failure".

Billionaire Elon Musk's Space Explorations Technologies Corp. and Boeing Co. have contracts to deliver astronauts to the ISS starting next year, which may threaten a key source of funding for Russia's space program. Neither NASA or Roscosmos will be jumping to any conclusions, but Russian Federation has promised a full investigation and is forming a team to look into how and why the rocket failed as it did.

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