Space duo crash land
Space station program in turmoil after rocket failure
A RUSSIAN Soyuz rocket carrying two crew members made an emergency landing on Thursday night after suffering a booster malfunction during launch in Kazakhstan.
Russian Roscosmos space agency and NASA said the three-stage Soyuz booster suffered an emergency shutdown of its second stage.
The rocket was carrying a Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut who had set off for a six-month mission at the International Space Station, on a relatively rare twoman launch.
NASA rookie Nick Hague and Roscosmo second-time flyer Aleksey Ovchinin blasted off for the orbital lab from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as scheduled.
The launch failure marks an unprecedented mishap for the Russian space program, which has been dogged by a string of launch failures and other incidents.
Neither the United States nor Russia will be able to send astronauts to the ISS until investigators determine why the Soyuz rocket failed after blastoff, complicating an already tricky launch calendar for 2019. The only way to get as- tronauts from Earth to the ISS since 2011 has been aboard Russian Soyuz rockets.
But Roscosmos has grounded the rockets until a probe into what caused the anomaly that forced Hague and Ovchinin to make the emergency landing concludes.
The next Soyuz launch for the ISS was scheduled for December 20, and it is supposed to take a new three-person crew to the space station.
But it’s not clear how long it will be grounded.
“If it’s two months or six, I really can’t speculate on that,” International Space Station operations integration manager Kenny Todd said.
“They’re probably going to ground the Soyuz rockets for a while,” said Erik Seedhouse, an assistant professor at EmbryRiddle Aeronautical University.
However, the Thursday case involved a manned vehicle, “so there’s much stricter requirements in investigations”, Mr Seedhouse said.
The European Space Agency has already acknowledged that the incident will affect the ISS calendar.
TAKEOFF: The Russian Soyuz rocket blasts away and the crew in the emergency landing. Below: The Soyuz MS-10 space capsule in a field.
Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin and American astronaut Nick Hague.