Soyuz Space Crew Makes Emergency Landing After Terrifying Booster Failure

Astronauts make emergency landing after booster rocket fails

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-10 space ship. Image AP

United States astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin landed safely about 20 kilometers from Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

Gerst took the opportunity to point out that the Soyuz spacecraft is "an awesome vehicle", as it was able to save the crew after its booster failure.

Roscosmos pledged to fully share all relevant information with NASA, which pays up to $82 million per Soyuz seat to the space station.

Krikalyov said all Soyuz launches have been suspended pending the investigation.

NASA officials now must decide how or whether to maintain a USA presence on the $100 billion orbital research laboratory as Roscosmos investigates the cause of the rocket's malfunction.

USA and Russian space officials said the astronauts were in good condition after enduring gravitational force that was six-to-seven times more than is felt on Earth. Hague is an Air Force Colonel who completed his astronaut training in 2015.

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"Confirming again that the today's Soyuz MS10 launch did go into a ballistic re-entry mode a little bit after its launch", Dean said during live television commentary.

"If you abandon the space station, then there's no one there to fix things as they fail - and they'll eventually have a serious problem", he said. "Roscosmos is forming a state commission to investigate today's Soyuz launch incident". Instead, the two astronauts landed safely a half-hour later, rescued by the capsule's "automated abort systems" that "is created to be effective", said Kenny Todd, the International Space Station manager. But the Russian space agency also considered the possibility of sabotage. The men planned to replace the batteries at the USA module. "Search and rescue crews are always pre-staged in the event something like this does happen", Dean added. A Soyuz capsule attached to the station that they use to ride back to Earth is designed for 200 days in space, meaning that their stay in orbit could only be extended briefly. But exactly when the astronauts will be sent home is still unclear.

An empty space station would be regrettable.

The results of a preliminary investigation into Thursday's incident suggests a section from the booster's first stage smashed into the second stage during the flight, according to Russian news agency TASS. This is far in excess of what some sources in the Russian press have estimated the crew of Soyuz MS-10 experienced Thursday: anywhere from 5 to 7 Gs. SpaceX, for example, has had a number of mishaps.

The launch of the Progress cargo ship, due to take place on October 31, may be delayed for some time, too, the officials said. A Falcon 9 exploded later in 2016 before it had even launched. The crew narrowly escaped before a large explosion. But these failures have been hard learning experiences for the company, which plans to launch its first crewed capsule in 2019.

European company Arianespace is also building out its commercial launch portfolio for satellites. According to Todd, the station can function like this for a long time, unless it suffers major equipment failures.

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