Soyuz MS-10 Mission Aborted After Launch

Cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague at the pre-launch ceremony in Kazakhstan

USA and Russian astronauts were forced to make an emergency landing Thursday after their booster rocket failed in mid-air en route to the International Space Station moments after the launch, according to NASA.

They would have joined Commander Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, NASA Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Prokopyev, who arrived at the ISS in June.

The last time the Russian space program had a manned launch failure was in 1983.

It said there was an issue with "the booster from today's launch".

The astronauts were to dock at the International Space Station six hours after the launch and join an American, a Russian and a German now aboard the station.

A search-and-rescue team reached the site quickly to get to the Soyuz MS-10 crew, leaving at 6:10 am EDT, according to NASA spokesperson Brandi Dean's commentary on live television.

The launch failure follows close on the heels of another Soyuz issue, in which a hole was discovered August 29 on the MS-09 spacecraft that delivered the most recent crew to the space station.

The incident came as the rocket was travelling about 7,563km/h, just 119 seconds into the voyage, according to NASA.

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"Shortly after launch, there was an anomaly with the booster and the launch ascent was aborted, resulting in a ballistic landing of the spacecraft", the USA space agency said in a statement.

Since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, the US has been relying on Russian Soyuz rockets, launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, to get astronauts to the Space Station. Three crew are now aboard the station and were due to return in December. If this were a Hollywood film, we might see the President order SpaceX to rush around the clock to finish their new Dragon capsule in time to perform a daring rescue, but in reality it simply isn't worth the risk to human life. They were met by rescue teams in remote Kazakhstan more than 200 miles from their launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Ultimately both spacecraft landed safely, with no human or material loss. Last month, the current ISS crew discovered a hole in the vessel that Russian Federation claims was drilled deliberately. "A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted alongside an official statement on the Soyuz MS-10 Launch Abort.

"Officials are now examining the launch site, documents are being seized", it said in a statement.

Even if the Soyuz spacecraft is cleared for launch before December, Hadfield said, it could end up carrying astronauts from Thursday's launch rather than the next scheduled crew.

Rogozin, the Roscosmos chief, has raised wide consternation by saying that an air leak spotted at the International Space Station was a drill hole that was made intentionally during manufacturing or in orbit.

But even the space station has proved a source of controversy in recent weeks.

The flight was carrying NASA's Nick Hague and Russia's Alexey Ovchinin. Helicopters have already dispatched to look for the Soyuz space capsule, she said. "I felt my face getting pulled back".

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