Soyuz rocket hit by engine problem after blast-off, astronauts safe: Russian agencies

Christopher Davidson
October 11, 2018

The two-man crew of a Soyuz rocket are alive after they were forced to make an emergency landing Thursday following lift-off to the International Space Station, the Russian space agency said.

Ovchinin and his colleague, NASA's Nick Hague were supposed to dock at the orbiting outpost six hours after the launch. The launch appeared to be normal until around first stage separation, when the crew reported a "failure" with the booster and feeling weightlessness.

A state commission set up by Roscosmos to investigate the cause of the incidence is already hard at work assessing telemetry.

While the initial launch at 04:40am ET was successful, the problem with the booster soon became apparent. The next crew scheduled to launch to the ISS was now scheduled for December 20-Soyuz MS-11. It read: "NASA is working closely with Roscosmos to ensure the safe return of the crew".

"Rescue forces are in communication with Nick Hague and Alexei Ovchinin and we are hearing that they are in good condition", NASA TV said. "Search and rescue teams are heading towards the expected touchdown location of the spacecraft and crew", tweeted NASA.

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Two astronauts have made an emergency landing after the rocket they were travelling in malfunctioned.

RIA news agency, citing its own source, reported that Russian Federation had chose to suspend all manned space launches following the "Soyuz" failure.

The rocket is put into an emergency landing procedure in which the main module - holding all cargo and any astronauts on board - separates from the rocket early.

NASA says it chose Hague as an astronaut in 2013 and completed training in 2015; he had been scheduled to perform at least two spacewalks as part of his mission on the space station. The current crew of three arrived at the station in June on Soyuz MS-09 and, with the craft only having a six-month orbital lifespan, must return in December or January at the latest.

A couple minutes after liftoff, however, a frantic message - "Failure, failure, failure", blared across the live feed.

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