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Rocket carrying space station crew fails in mid air, crew safe

14 October 2018

International Space Station (ISS) crew members astronaut Nick Hague of the US and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russian Federation board the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft for the launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan October 11, 2018.

This week's rocket launch on a Roscosmos Soyuz rocket didn't exactly go as planned.

Russia is now under pressure to prove its space program is safe and received a boost on Friday when NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said he had full confidence in Russian-made Soyuz rockets and expected USA astronauts to fly on them again.

Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Nick Hague of NASA, left, is welcomed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine after Hague landed at the Krayniy Airport with Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, after an emergency landing following the failure of a Russian booster rocket carrying them to the International Space Station. But soon after the landing, USA and Russian officials said that rescue forces were in contact with the astronaut and cosmonaut.

The inability to send people into space means we could have an empty ISS in a couple of months, which hasn't happened since the station's first crew arrived in November of 2000.

"The crew landed", Dmitry Rogozin, director of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said on Twitter.

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Earlier this morning, the two astronauts on board the Russian Soyuz spacecraft had a close call on what was an otherwise routine mission.

The rocket booster of the Soyuz failed mid-flight, causing the two men to return to Earth in their capsule.

As a result, Russian Federation has launched a criminal investigation into the rocket failure. Russian space agency Roscosmos has released photographs of both astronauts being checked over after their abrupt landing.

Had the launch gone smoothly, Ovchinin and Hague would have reached the space station later today.

An "anomaly" with the booster led to the launch being aborted, NASA later said.

In recent years, Russia's space programme has faced a number of technical failures - 13 since 2010.

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Hague and Ovchinin are safely back on Earth after the abort, during which they likely experienced the force of seven times Earth's gravity.

The emergency landing could become one of the biggest payouts for Russian insurance firm Soglasie in decades if it turns out to be an insurance case, Soglasie was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

Search and rescue teams from Russian Federation arrived as soon as the spacecraft touched ground to assist the astronauts. The hole caused a brief loss of air pressure before being fixed.

They were set to join the crew of Alexander Gerst, the station's first-ever German commander, as well as USA astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev.

The crash comes after Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin accused Elon Musk of conspiring with the Pentagon to force other players out of the space industry and suggested that global astronauts had sabotaged the ISS by drilling the hole found in its hull.

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Rocket carrying space station crew fails in mid air, crew safe