The booster rocket carrying a Soyuz spacecraft with a Russian and United States astronaut on board headed for the International Space Station failed mid-air on Thursday, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing.
The rocket's emergency abort system took over at that point, ejecting the Soyuz capsule, which carried the two-man crew on a harrowing ride back down to Earth. However, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said there was a period when he and Hague's family weren't sure about the astronaut's safety. The crew, which was travelling to the International Space Station, is reportedly safe and in "good condition" after the scary failure was broadcast on the web.
Two astronauts who survived the mid-air failure of a Russian rocket will fly again and are provisionally set to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) in spring of next year, the head of Russia's space agency said on Friday.
When asked about the accident, USA president Donald Trump said that he was "not at all worried" that Americans had to rely on Russians to go to space. NASA said Hague and Ovchinin experienced more than six times the force of gravity before tumbling onto a grassy expanse more than 200 miles from the Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. "Search and rescue teams are en route to the landing location and we await further updates".
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The Soyuz FG rocket used in the launch malfunctioned just two minutes after liftoff in Kazakhstan.
"If it's something simple and easily fixable, then they could get back to flight fairly quickly - but things with rockets are hardly ever simple and easily fixable". 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.
Krikalyov pledged that the Russian space agency will do its best not to leave the orbiting outpost unoccupied.
It was the first such accident for Russia's manned program in over three decades, although there also have been launch failures in recent years involving unmanned vehicles. In the meantime, all scheduled Soyuz launches have been suspended. He added that a "thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted".
Consequently, we're now facing the very real possibility of having an uncrewed International Space Station - something that hasn't happened in almost two decades. "We have resources well into next year for this crew, so there's no concern about resources on board". In 2015, CRS-7 launched a Dragon capsule on a Falcon 9 rocket to resupply the space station, but the second stage exploded. It's a predicament that would've seemed inconceivable to both Americans and Russians at the height of the space race in the 1960s and 1970s.