U.S., Russian astronauts make emergency landing after rocket fails on takeoff

12 Octobre, 2018, 16:29 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague at the pre-launch ceremony in Kazakhstan

The booster rocket carrying a Soyuz spacecraft with a Russian and USA astronaut on board headed for the International Space Station failed mid-air on Thursday, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing.

The capsule landed about 20km (12 miles) east of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

"Thank God the crew is alive", said Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian investigators said they were launching a criminal probe into the accident, the first such incident on a manned flight in the country's post-Soviet history.

There are no immediate concerns about the space station, the NASA officials said, as the most recent robot cargo flight delivered enough supplies for five crew members. Bridenstine attended the launch at Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome with Rogozin as part of an effort to mend relations between the two space superpowers strained by NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

The Soyuz MS-10 rocket had four first-stage boosters strapped to its central core, which housed the second stage booster.

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan at 4:40 AM EDT.

Search and rescue crews were sent to the site of the emergency landing.

The hole was detected in August and quickly sealed up, but Russian newspapers said Roscosmos was probing the possibility that USA crewmates had sabotaged the space station to get a sick colleague sent back home. This was Ovchinin's second trip to the station, and Hague's first trip.

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Oleg Orlov, the head of Russia's main space medicine center, said the higher-than-usual gravity load posed no threat to the astronauts, who have been trained to endure high g-forces. He added that space crew is trained to endure such load.

The descent profile for a ballistic descent is significantly steeper than the trajectory taken by astronauts returning from the space station under normal conditions. "But we have to keep going, for the sake of mankind".

Paulo Lozano, an MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics and director of the university's Space Propulsion Laboratory, said the capsule "went down like a free fall". Hague was supposed to be one of the spacewalkers.

Currently, the Russian's Soyuz rocket is the only system in the world that can carry human crew members up to the ISS, and return them safely home afterward.

All Russian manned space launches have been suspended after the incident, according to Russia's RIA news agency. That's just a month beyond their expected mid-December return.

At this moment, there are no Soyuz spacecraft berthed at the orbiting science station.

Earlier this morning, the two astronauts on board the Russian Soyuz spacecraft had a close call on what was an otherwise routine mission.

However, in the meantime, this failure has a number of consequences for the agencies and the crew aboard the space station.

For Boeing, launches are set for March and August 2019 respectively. The space station and its crew depend heavily on missions supported by the rocket.

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