Rocket Launch Failure Forces Astronaut And Cosmonaut To Make 'Ballistic Landing'

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Hague and his fellow astronaut, Russian Alexei Ovchinin, are safe after an emergency landing early Thursday morning, following the failure of a Russian booster rocket carrying them to the International Space Station. The rocket booster of the Soyuz failed mid-flight, causing the two men to return to Earth in their capsule.

American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are in Russia, following Thursday's emergency landing shortly after take-off.

"For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in August at a ceremony announcing the two sets of crews who will be manning the tests. In a press conference on Thursday, Kenny Todd, ISS operations integration manager, said NASA also doesn't want to de-crew the station by bringing the astronauts back and sending none to replace them.

The Chief of Roscosmos, Dmitri Rogozin, said in a tweeted statement that "a state commission" had been formed to investigate the cause of the malfunction.

It was to be the first space mission for Hague, who joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2013. Three crew are now aboard the station and were due to return in December.

The two astronauts were to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) six hours after the launch to join an American, a Russian and a German now aboard the station.

Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin also praised his team, saying in a translated interview that "the crew performed fantastically".

But more than a minute after launch, their Soyuz MS-10's booster failed.

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After the malfunction they were forced to return to Earth in a process known as a "ballistic re-entry", during which they experienced forces of up to 7G.

The International Space Station, a rare point of cooperation between Moscow and Washington, has been orbiting the Earth at roughly 28,000 kilometres per hour since 1998 and will mark its 20th birthday in November.

The failure is a setback for the Russian space programme.

"The station could fly in an unmanned mode, but will do all we can to avoid it", he said. Russian Federation has launched an investigation and suspended all launches of manned spacecraft until the probe is complete.

While the Soyuz rocket is considered a reliable launch vehicle in the space sector, this is not the first failure in the Soyuz program's history.

The launch failure raises questions about the continued reliability of Russia's Soyuz launch system, which lost a cargo spacecraft at the end of 2016 and sent a Soyuz capsule with a hole in it to the ISS earlier this year. But the incident highlights recent tensions that have surfaced in a long-running collaboration in space between the USA and Russian Federation.

"To keep space separate from the political environment has been our tradition and we want to keep that", said Bridenstine. NASA too is conducting an investigation of its own. And from what we know so far ... the crew's efforts, were heroic.