While the rocket would normally be carrying three people, the third space was instead used for cargo to be taken up to the space station.
Russia says it is suspending manned space launches pending a probe into a Russian booster rocket failure, raising questions about the fate of an upcoming launch that included a Canadian astronaut.
"The Soyuz capsule is returning to Earth via a ballistic descent, which is a sharper angle of landing compared to normal".
How have the crew fared?
Unmanned launches of Soyuz rockets might also be suspended, Interfax said. The crew landed about 20 kilometers east of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, where rescue crews were scrambled to find them. All members of the ISS partnership have been reliant on Roscosmos to deliver crews to the station after the USA ceased all Space Shuttle operations in 2011. Pictures showed the two men seated smiling on a sofa attached to heart rate and blood pressure monitors.
The rare failed launch of the Soyuz rocket is the latest and most grave problem to beset U.S.
Two astronauts who survived the mid-air failure of a Russian rocket will fly again - and could be back in orbit by early 2019. The escape systems are tested and ready for exactly this sort of eventuality. It would have been an uncomfortable ride back to Earth, however.
In 2003, when Expedition 6 crew members Ken Bowersox and Don Pettit and their cosmonaut counterpart Nikolai Budarin returned from a five-month stay aboard the ISS, their automated controls failed, forcing the re-entry in ballistic mode. "We need more data".
What does this mean for future Soyuz missions?
"What we usually do is one group comes up and another group comes down just as part of our regular crew rotation", NASA spokeswoman Kathryn Hambleton said.
Space co-operation is an area which has survived otherwise tense relations between Russian Federation and the US.
The Russian space program has suffered several failures in recent years. The head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said a state commission has already been established to study the accident.
Have there been similar incidents in the past?
The launch failure follows close on the heels of another Soyuz issue, in which a hole was discovered August 29 on the MS-09 spacecraft that delivered the most recent crew to the space station. Then, a rocket malfunctioned shortly before launch, and the crew vehicle was ejected to safety.
"I strongly believe we're going to get the right answer to what caused the hole on the International Space Station and that together we'll be able to continue our strong collaboration", Bridenstine said on a visit to Moscow this week, according to the Associated Press.