Crew Rescued After Russian ISS Launch Fails

Clark Diaz
October 13, 2018

And with the news the crew - Alexey Ovchinin, a Russian cosmonaut, and Nick Hague an American astronaut - are in good health according to officials, attention has somewhat inevitably turned to the more humorous side of the misfire.

The aborted mission dealt another blow to the troubled Russian space program that now serves as the only way to deliver astronauts to the orbiting outpost.

This was the 139th launch of the Soyuz program and the first abort during ascent since 1975 when a failure in second-stage separation triggered emergency reentry 21 minutes after launch.

Following the failure, the Soyuz capsule entered emergency mode, and the astronauts aborted the climb and began descending back to Earth. "That means the crew will not be going to the International Space Station today".

Search and rescue forces were scrambled from Baikonur Cosmodrome to the expected landing site, a journey of roughly one and a half hours. The astronauts were exposed to increased g-force during the descent, but were otherwise unharmed.

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The pair landed about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. The crew has now touched down in Kazakhstan, where they are being attended by search and rescue personnel.

While the initial launch at 04:40am ET was successful, the problem with the booster soon became apparent.

Thursday's early morning launch was broadcast live by NASA TV.

Roscosmos say they are forming a commission to investigate the launch failure.

An emergency light would have come on and, an instant later, the abort motors fired, pulling the capsule away from the stricken rocket.

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The Expedition 57 crew members are working on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science, according to NASA.

Speaking with reporters in Moscow before Thursday's launch, Bridenstine said that Russian-American cooperation in space remained strong, amid an investigation into the cause of the leak.

While the Soyuz rocket is considered a reliable launch vehicle in the space sector, this is not the first failure in the Soyuz program's history. In August, a hole appeared in a Soyuz capsule already docked to the ISS that caused a brief loss of air pressure and had to be patched. Russia's Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal investigation into the matter. The first crewed flights would not take place until several months after that, unless the space agency is willing to take additional risks with those missions.

During a news conference on Thursday, International Space Station Operations Integration Manager Kenny Todd said that should the crew need to leave the station before a replacement crew could be sent up, the station could be piloted remotely.

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