A NASA astronaut and Russian cosmonaut made an emergency landing after their rocket failed in midair Thursday morning.
The Soyuz MS-10 mission launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1:40 a.m. PT (2:40 p.m. local time), but "an anomaly" with the booster forced NASA's Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Aleksey Ovchinin to return to Earth in an escape capsule,
in a statement. The capsule landed east of the city of Zhezkazgan.
.@NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are in good condition following today's aborted launch. I’m grateful that everyone is safe. A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted. Full statement below: pic.twitter.com/M76yisHaKF— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) October 11, 2018
The pair were supposed to take a four-orbit, six-hour journey to the International Space Station. They were due to join European Space Agency's Alexander Gerst, NASA's Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos' Sergey Prokopyev for six months to conduct experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.
A ballistic descent is a sharper angle of landing than usual, but the space agency reported that Hague and Ovchinin made it back to Earth in good condition. Search-and-recovery helicopters brought them to Zhezkazgan, where they reported on the incident and underwent a medical checkup ahead of their journey to Baikonur, Kazakhstan. They'll ultimately return to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, just outside Moscow.
It was Hague's first space mission, NASA
before the launch, and Ovchinin's second, RTE reported.
Thursday, @AstroHague is preparing to launch on his first space mission – a six-month stay on @Space_Station. Launching at 4:40am ET, six hours later, he and his crewmate will dock to the station at 10:44am ET. Details on how to watch live: https://t.co/N2Sukhxuom pic.twitter.com/Efu50Tkk4c— NASA (@NASA) October 11, 2018
Below are images of the two men after they were back on Earth. NASA also posted the images.
"Thank God the cosmonauts are alive," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists as the Kremlin confirmed Hague's and Ovchinin's survival.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said he's "grateful that everyone is safe."
to investigate the cause of Thursday's incident.
Для выяснения причины аварии на РН Союз-ФГ моим решением образована государственная комиссия. Она уже приступила к работе. Изучается телеметрия.— Дмитрий Рогозин (@Rogozin) October 11, 2018
Службы спасения работают с первой секунды аварии. Система аварийного спасения корабля Союз-МС сработала штатно. Экипаж спасен.
Alexander Gerst, a German astronaut with the European Space Agency, expressed his relief that Hague and Ovchinin were unhurt.
"Glad our friends are fine. Thanks to the rescue force of >1000 SAR professionals! Today showed again what an amazing vehicle the #Soyuz is, to be able to save the crew from such a failure. Spaceflight is hard. And we must keep trying for the benefit of humankind," he https://twitter.com/Astro_Alex/status/1050385043980472322.
The malfunction may have occurred during "staging" -- when the rocket was going through the process of discarding empty fuel segments -- and the crew was tipped off to the problem because they felt weightless as they should've felt pushed back in their seats, according to a BBC analyst.
While the capsule was prepared for this scenario, the crew would've endured very high gravitational forces and had an uncomfortable journey back to Earth during the ballistic descent, the analyst wrote.
First published at Oct. 11 at 2:36 a.m. PT.
Update, at 7:23 a.m. PT: Adds Gerst's tweet.
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