Russian Federation launches criminal probe after Soyuz rocket makes emergency landing

Cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague at the pre-launch ceremony in Kazakhstan

Cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague at the pre-launch ceremony in Kazakhstan

Thursday's dramatic launch abort that returned the crew of Soyuz MS-10 safely to Earth after a still-unidentified booster anomaly was the first time a crewed spacecraft bound for the International Space Station has suffered a mission critical failure. Recovery crews were able to contact the astronauts shortly after landing and reported that they were in "good condition", according to a tweet from NASA at 5:26 a.m. ET.

Footage from inside the rocket show the two men being shaken at the moment the fault occured, their arms and legs flailing.

Hague and Ovchinin launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:40 a.m. ET, heading to join the crew of the International Space Station.

They were to dock at the International Space Station six hours later, but the booster suffered engine failure minutes after the launch.

Rescue crews then raced to the scene to retrieve them with reports of paratroopers parachuting to their landing spot. But more than a minute after launch, their Soyuz MS-10's booster failed.

With the failure of this launch, there are far-reaching consequences for the world's human space programs, and for those astronauts and cosmonauts now on board the International Space Station.

"Thank god, the cosmonauts are alive", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. The first crewed flights would not take place until several months after that, unless the space agency is willing to take additional risks with those missions.

Had the launch gone smoothly, Ovchinin and Hague would have reached the space station later today. The flight was carrying NASA's Nick Hague and Russia's Alexey Ovchinin. "A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted", says NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who was in Kazakhstan for the rocket launch.

Moscow immediately suspended all manned space launches, the RIA news agency reported, while Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said he ordered a state commission to be created to investigate what went wrong. Both crew members are reportedly safe and in good condition, and have already been reunited with their families.

Which means they came back 'at a sharper angle of landing compared to normal'.

U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin were heading to the International Space Station when they had to make an emergency landing due to failure of the booster rockets.

It was the first time that the Soyuz - the main workhorse of manned space flight today - had failed on a launch to the 20-year-old International Space Station. The capsule separated and recovered in a ballistic trajectory that the Russian space agency said exposed the crew to about 6.7 G's.

This incident will likely delay the scheduled mission of Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, who was set to fly to the space station in December.

But the three - a German, a Russian and an American - might have to stay on the space station into next year due the crash, Interfax quoted a source as saying.

There are a few potential alternatives to leaving the ISS without a crew for the first time in almost 20 years, but given the risk-adverse nature of human spaceflight, it seems unlikely NASA or Roscosmos will want to tempt fate on any of them.

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