Astronauts doing well after emergency landing

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 13, 2018

Russian Federation said Friday it was likely to bring forward the flight of a new manned space mission to the International Space Station but postpone the launch of a cargo ship after a rocket failure that forced two crew members to make an emergency landing.

A rescue mission was launched immediately, Nasa and the Russian Roscosmos space agency said.

Something went very wrong - a failure of unknown origin during the firing of the Soyuz MS-10 rocket's second booster - but the escape system worked perfectly.

The crew landed safely on the steppes of Kazakhstan, but the aborted mission dealt another blow to the troubled Russian space program that now serves as the only link to deliver astronauts to the orbiting outpost.

A NASA TV commentator at Mission Control Center in Houston describes a ballistic descent or landing as coming in "at a sharper angle to land than we normally land at".

Video from inside the capsule showed the two men being shaken around at the moment the failure occurred, with their arms and legs flailing. Ovchinin, the Russian cosmonaut, can be heard saying: "That was a quick flight".

Photographs released by Roscosmos after the rescue showed the two men smiling and relaxing on sofas at a town near their landing site as they underwent medical tests.

The Nasa commentator later said the crew was in good condition and communicating with rescue workers after landing east of the Kazakh city of Zhezkazgan.

The emergency is the latest mishap for the Russian space programme, which has been dogged by a string of launch failures and other incidents in recent years.

Space is an area of cooperation between the United States and Russian Federation at a time of fraught relations.

Russia's RIA news agency reported that Russian Federation has immediately suspended all manned space launches after the failure. Russian investigators have also opened a criminal investigation.

A Soyuz rocket booster failed during the launch of a capsule carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin on Thursday, forcing officials to abort their mission. "The crew has been saved".

"Thank God the cosmonauts are alive", Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

"The boys have landed", mission control told the astronauts, who arrived at the space station in June and were scheduled to return December 13.

NASA officials now must decide how or whether to maintain a USA presence on the $100 billion orbital research laboratory.

"But we have confidence that our Russian colleagues will figure out what's going on and we'll hopefully see Nick and Alexei in orbit at the space station soon", said Kenny Todd, NASA's International Space Station operations integration manager.

Russian Federation is now the only country taking crew to and from the ISS.

"We have a lot of things planned through the rest of the fall and the winter, and that's all just being reassessed right now", Sam Scimemi, NASA's director for the International Space Station, told Reuters.

The accident is the first failed launch of a manned mission to the ISS and the first time a Russian rocket with a crew aboard has failed since 1983.

"A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted", he said, saying the safety of the crew was the utmost priority for Nasa. I'm grateful that everyone is safe. Russian Federation is now under pressure to prove its space programme is safe or face losing lucrative fees to carry United States astronauts into space.

The hole was detected in August and quickly sealed up, but Russian newspapers said Roscosmos was probing the possibility that U.S. crewmates had sabotaged the space station to get a sick colleague sent back home. Asked about the malfunction which forced the emergency landing, Todd said it was "very hard to the untrained eye to try and diagnose" exactly what happened, but that it was a "major anomaly" with the Soyuz system.

Roscosmos sent more than 70 rocket engines back to production lines to replace faulty components, a move that resulted in a yearlong break in Proton launches and badly dented Russia's niche in the global market for commercial satellite launches.

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