Soyuz Space Vehicle Designed to Safely Return Crew in Any Conditions - ASI

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 13, 2018

The two-man crew of a Soyuz rocket has made a successful emergency landing following the failure of a Russian booster rocket carrying them to the International Space Station (ISS).

A view shows the Soyuz capsule transporting USA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin, after it made an emergency landing following a failure of its booster rockets, near the city of Zhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan October 11, 2018.

Sergei Krikalyov, the head of Roscosmos' manned programs, said the launch went awry after one of the rocket's four boosters failed to jettison about two minutes into the flight, damaging the main stage and triggering the emergency.

Russian Federation has continued to rely on Soviet-designed booster rockets to launching commercial satellites, as well as crews and cargo to the International Space Station.

Since Soyuz is now the single crew-capable capsule, no astronaut will be heading to the ISS for a while, meaning the crew now on the station has no way of returning back to Earth. Search and rescue teams reported the men are in good condition after making a ballistic descent, which has "a sharper angle of landing compared to normal", NASA said on Twitter. The crew landed about 20 kilometers east of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, where rescue crews were scrambled to find them. As a result of the defect, the spacecraft would not be heading to the ISS, but instead return to Earth using a "ballistic descent mode". He added that a "thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted". But Russia would like to avoid mothballing the station, he said.

The incident began with a booster emergency light illuminating in the ship of NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos astronaut Alexei Ovchinin.

The rocket, carrying an American astronaut and Russian cosmonaut, began to plummet to earth about two minutes into the six-hour mission due to what launch controllers initially called a "vehicle malfunction". "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.

"Thank God, the crew is alive", Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, told reporters when it became clear the crew had landed safely.

NASA officials now must decide how or whether to maintain a United States presence on the $100 billion orbital research laboratory as Roscosmos investigates the cause of the rocket's malfunction. The hole cause a small oxygen leak while hooked up to the ISS. "But we have confidence that our Russian colleagues will figure out what's going on and we'll hopefully see Nick and Aleksei in orbit at the space station soon". But it was not the first time that a manned Soyuz rocket has been forced to activate its launch abort system. However, the two sides have continued their cooperation in space.

In this photo made available by Roscosmos on Friday, Oct. 12.

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