Astronauts in miracle escape as rocket fails

Russia suspends manned space program after Soyuz rocket makes emergency landing

Hague and Ovchinin launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:40 a.m. ET, heading to join the crew of the International Space Station.

Russian news agencies reported that the crew was safe and was making an emergency landing in Kazakhstan where the unsuccessful launch took place.

A recording of communications between the space station and NASA stated that Hague and Ovchinin had experienced 6.7 G's - about the same as Apollo astronauts felt during re-entry, according to Air & Space magazine.

The descent was sharper than usual, meaning the crew was subjected to a greater G-force, but they have been prepared for this scenario in training, the commentator said. Search and rescue teams were sent to recover the crew. The space agency said, Rogozin was flying to the scene of the emergency landing. Russian news reports indicated that one of its four first-stage engines might have failed to jettison in sync with others, resulting in the second stage's shutdown and activating the automatic emergency rescue system. Two spacewalks planned for later this month were off indefinitely. "We are planning their flight for the spring next year", Rogozin wrote, posting a photograph of himself with his arms around the two men aboard a plane.

"We will try to bring forward the launch of a new crew", Sergei Krikalyov, executive director of the Russian space agency, told reporters.

ISS Operations Integration Manager Kenny Todd told a press briefing in Houston late on October 11 that it's not clear how long the Soyuz operations will be grounded.

Stefan Beransky, editor of the specialist Aerospatium magazine and author of a book on the Soyuz rocket, said now "the main problem is that there are two fewer people at the station". "The fact that this crew didn't get to orbit, we feel bad for them".

Ovchinin was heading to space for the second time, having previously served aboard the station.

The failure of the Soyuz MS-10 rocket immediately led to the grounding of the Soyuz fleet and will have cascading effects for US and Russian space programs, along with their global partners. They may find their mission extended, but at some point they will need to return to Earth. Russian Federation says there is enough food on board to last until April.

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NASA, the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and the International Space Station control team still have a whole lot of decisions to make about what to do next - not to mention an investigation to conduct into what went wrong.

The Soyuz capsule carrying them separated from the malfunctioning rocket and made what is called a steep ballistic descent with parachutes helping slow its speed.

The hole was detected in August and quickly sealed up, but Russian newspapers said Roscosmos was probing the possibility that United States crewmates had sabotaged the space station to get a sick colleague sent back home.

The space station could operate like that indefinitely, barring a major equipment failure, he added.

The two astronauts were to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) six hours after the launch to join an American, a Russian and a German now aboard the station.

Russian Federation now operates the only spacecraft for ferrying crews to the station following the retirement of the US space shuttle fleet, but it stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of commercial USA crew capsules - SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's Starliner.

The contract with Russian Federation ends in late 2019, and the USA space agency has deals with the two American companies to step in at that point. But both companies have faced repeated delays, and NASA recently announced that neither would fly even an uncrewed test flight this year and that the first flights with astronauts on board wouldn't happen until the middle of 2019.

Elon Musk's SpaceX will be using its Falcon 9 rockets. Dzhezkazgan is about 450 kilometres (280 miles) northeast of Baikonur, and spacecraft returning from the space station normally land in that area. But it will need to be staffed before SpaceX or Boeing launches its crew capsules next year, Todd said.

"Even when a failure occurs, because of the engineering and the design and the great work done by folks in Russian Federation, the crew can be safe", he said.

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