Astronauts survive fall to Earth

Astronauts survive fall to Earth

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin were forced to make an unplanned descent through Earth's atmosphere today following a malfunction of their Soyuz launch vehicle.

NASA said that rescue teams have reached Hague and Ovchinin and they've been taken out of the capsule and were in good condition.

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan at 4:40 AM EDT. That automatically triggered the launch abort, beginning with the separation of the capsule from the rocket to get the crew away from the booster, which, of course, is laden with explosive rocket fuel.

Search and rescue teams were heading to the area to recover the crew.

Wiseman said the astronauts were alerted about one second in advance by a warning light inside the capsule before it was separated from the malfunctioning Soyuz rocket.

It was an unprecedented mishap for the Russian space programme and a criminal investigation is now under way to determine whether safety regulations had been violated during construction.

"Thank God, the crew is alive", Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, told reporters when it became clear the crew had landed safely.

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Thursday's accident was the first serious launch problem experienced by a manned Soyuz space mission since 1983, when a crew narrowly escaped before a launch pad explosion.

The duo blasted off from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft. The intention was to have them work as a team of five until December, when the three scientists now aboard would return to Earth. The next Soyuz launch had been scheduled to take a new three-person crew to the ISS on December 20 and a Progress cargo ship had been set to blast off on October 31. But soon after the landing, US and Russian officials said that rescue forces were in contact with the astronaut and cosmonaut.

There have been only two similar aborted manned space launches in the history of the Soviet space programme.

Billionaire Elon Musk's Space Explorations Technologies Corp. and Boeing Co. have contracts to deliver astronauts to the ISS starting next year, which may threaten a key source of funding for Russia's space program.

The chief of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, promised that both men will be given another chance to reach the space station. The Russian space agency also sent 70 rocket engines back to production lines in 2016 to replace broken parts.

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.

"Shortly after launch, there was an anomaly with the booster and the launch ascent was aborted", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. The derivative has been transporting crews to the space station since coming into service in 2001, conducting 55 successful flights in 17 years.

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