Astronauts Make Emergency Landing After Soyuz Rocket Malfunctions

By RJ Johnson - @rickerthewriter

October 11, 2018

Two astronauts are safely on the ground after their Russian Soyuz rocket malfunctioned shortly after liftoff Thursday. 

According to a press release from NASA, shortly after taking off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin reported a problem with the Soyuz's rocket booster. The two men were forced into a "ballistic landing" of the spacecraft, landing a few hundred miles north of Baikonur. 

“Search and rescue teams were deployed to the landing site. Hague and Ovchinin are out of the capsule and are reported to be in good condition," NASA said in a statement. "They will be transported to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia outside of Moscow."

Initially, there were no indications anything were going wrong after liftoff of the spacecraft went smoothly at around 4:47 a.m. EDT. But only 114 seconds into their flight, the rocket reportedly experienced a "serious anomaly" after the booster failed to seperate. Footage from inside the capsule show the two astronauts being jostled around when the fault happened. 

The capsule separated from the Soyuz rocket and deployed parachutes to slow its descent. The pair are described as being in 'good condition' by NASA director Jim Bridenstine. 

"I'm grateful that everyone is safe," Bridenstine wrote on Twitter. 

Hague and Ovchinin were being transported to the International Space Station for a six-month stay. NASA uses Russian Soyuz rockets to shuttle crew members up to the ISS. 

NASA says the agency is working closely with their Russian counterparts in Roscosmos, to ensure the same return of the crew. The two agencies say a thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted. 

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