Astronauts safe after failed rocket launch, emergency bail-out

Both crewmembers (NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovichin) are safe, but the launch failure means that much more than just today's space station schedule will need to be reshuffled.

Two astronauts made an emergency landing after their Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station malfunctioned during lift-off on Thursday.

The American space agency said on Twitter that the crew were in good condition, after the capsule landed safely in Kazakhstan.

The last one returned to Earth on October 4, carrying NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, after their 197-day mission in space.

They were to dock at the orbiting outpost six hours later, but the booster suffered a failure minutes after the launch.

Soyuz rockets, in various versions, have been the mainstay of the Soviet and Russian space programs since the 1960s. Robotic cargo launches using US -built resupply ships are also scheduled to deliver more supplies to the station in the next two months.

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster which carries the Soyuz MS-10 capsule is pictured on its way to the International Space Station.

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Russian and US space officials said that the crew is heading for an emergency landing in Kazakhstan at an unspecified time.

An Antonov-12 transport plane was dispatched to drop a rescue team at the site, where helicopters were expected to pick up the astronauts, Interfax said.

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA team are monitoring the situation carefully", the statement continued.

Russian Federation was forming a state commission to investigate the Soyuz launch incident, Nasa said. Russian Federation stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of SpaceX's Dragon v2 and Boeing's Starliner crew capsules. For years, since NASA's final shuttle mission launched in 2011, the US has relied on Russian rockets to send astronauts to the International Space Station, which is largely funded by America taxpayer dollars.

While Russian rockets had earned a stellar reputation for their reliability in the past, a string of failed launches in recent years has called into doubt Russia's ability to maintain the same high standards of manufacturing.

Glitches found in Russia's Proton and Soyuz rockets in 2016 were traced to manufacturing flaws at the plant in Voronezh. The United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration confirmed there was an "issue with the booster" and the crew has landed back on Earth. Three Americans, two Russians and one German are now aboard the station.

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