Astronauts escape malfunctioning Soyuz rocket

American, Russian alive after Soyuz rocket headed to space station fails on launch

Booster Problem Causes Soyuz Mission Abort, Ballistic Re-entry

Eastern time aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Video of the incident shows the boosters abruptly quitting and the men being violently jerked within the spaceship. Both flights experienced an abort midflight, forcing the capsule to separate from the rocket.

Glover, the NASA astronaut at the bar, received word that the astronauts were making a "ballistic descent", a much steeper and faster return to Earth than what is ideal - but that search-and-rescue crews were in contact with the astronauts.

The launch took place at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:40 pm.

How have the crew fared?

American Nick Hague and Russian Alexei Ovchinin were uninjured, Russian government officials said.

The rescue capsule landed about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of the city of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

Soyuz is one of the oldest rocket designs but also one of the safest.

The hole was detected in August and quickly sealed up, but Russian newspapers said Roscosmos was probing the possibility that U.S. crewmates had sabotaged the space station to get a sick colleague sent back home. It would have been an uncomfortable ride back to Earth, however.

Ballistic descent subjects astronauts to a heavy g-load and is only used in emergencies.

"All of the systems that were there in case of a rocket failure worked". It could potentially start another domino effect of delaying future missions and experiments, such as the unmanned test flight of SpaceX's new Dragon capsule which is now slated to arrive at the Station in April. He added that the president is receiving regular updates about the situation. But the incident highlights recent tensions that have surfaced in a long-running collaboration in space between the U.S. and Russian Federation.

"The crew is alive and is landing in Kazakhstan", Interfax quoted an unnamed source as saying. He didn't say if he suspected any of the station's crew.

Have there been similar incidents in the past?

In recent years, Russia's space programme has faced a number of technical failures - 13 since 2010. It has a design life of only 215 days, any longer than that and the vehicle's corrosive propellants will degrade their tanks. NASA purchased seats aboard Soyuz capsules for access to the ISS following the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011. In this instance, Russian Federation said the hole may have been drilled "deliberately".

One of the most serious but non-fatal United States incidents involved Apollo 13 - a mission to the Moon in 1970. The launch escape tower activated two seconds before the rocket below the crew exploded, ripping the Soyuz spacecraft away from the inferno as it engulfed the launch pad.

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