Booster Problem Causes Soyuz Mission Abort, Ballistic Re-entry

U.S. astronaut Nick Hague right and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin crew members of the mission to the International Space Station wave as they board the rocket prior to the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome Kazakhs

Astronauts escape malfunctioning Soyuz rocket

Rescuers have reached the site of the Russian "Soyuz" spacecraft's emergency landing, Interfax and TASS news agencies reported on Thursday, citing military officials.

Bridenstine attended the launch at Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome with Rogozin as part of an effort to mend relations between the two space superpowers strained by NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

They were to dock at the orbiting outpost six hours later, but the booster suffered a failure minutes after the launch. The spacecraft was able to separate with the booster and return to earth using the backup ballistic descent mode.

Rescue crews then raced to the scene to retrieve them with reports of paratroopers parachuting to their landing spot. NASA also said in a statement that "NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA team are monitoring the situation carefully", and that a "thorough investigation" will be conducted.

After the booster failed, Ovchinin and Hague were forced to make a ballistic descent, coming back to the ground at a sharper angle than normal and causing higher gravitational forces on their bodies.

For now, the United States relies on Moscow to carry its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) which was launched 20 years ago.

"Spaceflight is hard. And we must keep trying for the benefit of humankind", ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted from aboard the space station as he watched and photographed the launch from space. The space station and its crew depend heavily on missions supported by the rocket.

"The crew landed", Dmitry Rogozin, director of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said on Twitter.

Russia's Investigative Committee said a criminal probe would seek to determine whether safety regulations had been violated during construction, causing major damage.

It was to be Hague's first flight to the station, launching at 3:40 a.m. Thursday from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome.

1971: The three-men crew aboard Soyuz 11 suffocated as the result of an air leak after undocking from the Salyut 1 space station.

NASA coordinated a private event at Peabody's Coneburg Inn exclusively for Hague's extended family, sending astronaut Victor Glover to be a personal envoy to the family there. Helicopters have already dispatched to look for the Soyuz space capsule, she said.

The current iteration of the manned Soyuz booster, the Soyuz-FG, had until today boasted a 100 percent success rate. Roscosmos sent more than 70 rocket engines back to production lines to replace faulty components.

The Expedition 57 crew members are working on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science, according to NASA.

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