A two-man U.S.-Russian crew of a Soyuz spacecraft bound for the International Space Station was safe following a dramatic emergency landing on Thursday (October 11) shortly after lift-off in Kazakhstan when their rocket failed in mid-air.
U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin landed safely and rescue crews who raced to locate them on the Kazakh steppe quickly linked up with them, according to the U.S. space agency NASA and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.
The emergency occurred as the first and second stages of a booster rocket separated shortly after launch from Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur.
“It just reemphasizes that this is a dangerous business,” NASA’s deputy chief assistant, Reid Wiseman, said during a briefing at the Johnson Space Center.
The Soyuz capsule carrying the two men separated from the malfunctioning rocket and made what NASA called a steep ballistic descent to Earth with parachutes helping to slow its speed. A cloud of sand billowed up as the capsule came down on the desert steppe.
The capsule took 34 minutes to reach the ground after it separated from the faulty rocket, NASA said.
Rescue crews then raced to the scene to retrieve them, including paratroopers parachuting to their landing spot, helicopters and all-terrain vehicles, NASA said.— Reuters