American and Russian astronaut rescued after emergency landing following rocket booster malfunction

American and Russian astronaut rescued after emergency landing following rocket booster malfunction

Kenneth Drake
October 13, 2018

"'I hope they get down safe.' That was the only thing going through my mind".

"We don't have an opportunity to extend it for a long time", Krikalyov said.

The mishap occurred as the first and second stages of a Russian rocket separated shortly after the launch from Kazakhstan's Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur.

There was no immediate word on whether Mr Gertz and the current space station crew might need to extend their own six-month missions. Officials are also investigating the unusual hole recently found in a Soyuz spacecraft aboard the International Space Station.

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin has raised wide concern by saying that the leak was a drill hole that was made intentionally during manufacturing or in orbit. In a statement, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed he had been informed the two crewmembers were safe.

"Scary, scary, scary - not what we wanted", one family member said.

Bridenstine said experts have a "really good idea" of what caused the booster to malfunction about two minutes into Thursday's launch with NASA's Tyler N. "Nick" Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin aboard.

The space agency tweeted: "There's been an issue with the booster from today's launch".

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NASA said flight controllers could operate the space station without anyone on board if the Russian rockets remain grounded. The crew were in contact with rescue forces prior to touching down and have since been extracted from the capsule.

While Russian rockets had earned a stellar reputation for their reliability in the past, a string of failed launches in recent years has called into doubt Russia's ability to maintain the same high standards of their manufacturing. Teams are working to obtain additional information from our Russian partners.

Hague and Ovchinin were travelling to the ISS to join three other crewmates for ISS Expedition 57.

Rescuers have reached the site of the Russian "Soyuz" spacecraft's emergency landing, Interfax and TASS news agencies reported on Thursday, citing military officials. "We plan that they will fly in the spring".

After it became clear that the crew had landed safely, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: 'Thank God, the crew is alive'. According to NASA TV footage of the launch, Russian flight controllers first announced a booster failure about 165 seconds into flight.

USA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin were rescued without injuries in Kazakhstan. This is especially tricky, as the new batteries arrived later than expected after a series of launch delays from the Japanese cargo vehicle they were on.

Gerst tweeted his relief that the two astronauts were safe, saying the day's events "showed again what an awesome vehicle the Soyuz is, to be able to save the crew from such a failure".