Astronauts Make Emergency Landing in Failed Russian Space Launch

Aborted mission A grab from the Russian space agency's on-board video camera shows Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and US astronaut Nick Hague during the launch

"And it can absolutely humble you".

"We like having more than one operational system, and right now, by my count, we have zero", said Lori Garver, a former NASA deputy administrator who was a strong advocate for commercial crew during the Obama administration. As night fell in Central Asia, Hague and Ovchinin were being examined by medical officials and would soon likely return to Russian Federation to the space training facility in Star City. Russian investigators have also opened a criminal investigation.

Hague, 43, and Ovchinin, 47, lifted off at 2:40 p.m. (0840 GMT; 4:40 a.m. EDT). It was Hague's first rocket launch.

Hague and Ovchinin were supposed to spend the next half year aboard the International Space Station.

Parachutes deployed automatically. The gray-colored capsule tumbled onto grassy flatlands.

They all were scheduled to return to Earth in mid-December, but may have to stay aboard the station longer.

The crew landed safely on the steppes of Kazakhstan, but the aborted mission dealt another blow to the troubled Russian space program that now serves as the only way to deliver astronauts to the orbiting outpost. Thursday's accident led NASA officials to acknowledge that they and their partners might need to bring everyone home and hope that the station can function safely with no one onboard, relying exclusively on commands from the ground. Former military pilots Ovchinin and Hague were set to join Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, Nasa's Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos following a six-hour flight.

The two crew members on board, cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and Nick Hague of NASA, are alive after performing an emergency landing.

But it will need to be staffed again before private space companies SpaceX or Boeing launch their planned manned missions next year, Todd said.

NASA's top official said it was unlikely the Russian rocket failure would speed up development of those rockets because work on them was already flat out, but said it underlined the need for the world to have more than one way of getting to the ISS.

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The Russian Soyuz spacecraft is now the only vehicle for ferrying crews to the space station following the retirement of the US space shuttle fleet.

In August, the space station crew found a hole in a Soyuz capsule docked to the orbiting outpost that caused a brief loss of air pressure before being patched.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential vote, but Russia and the US have maintained cooperation in space.

Other failures have been blamed on corruption within the manufacturing process of the rockets. "The investigation is ongoing, Russian Federation has been very supportive of sharing data with the United States and we're grateful for that". "When it comes to space and exploration and discovery and science, our two nations have always kept those activities separate from the disputes that we have terrestrially".

The politician has clashed with the United States, suggesting American astronauts should use trampolines instead of Russian rockets to reach the ISS after Washington imposed sanctions over Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea.

NASA has been dependent on Russia's crewed Soyuz spacecraft and rockets to fly astronuats to and from the space station since the agency retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011.

Russian Federation stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of the SpaceX's Dragon v2 and Boeing's Starliner crew capsules. "In retrospect those don't look like wise decisions", said space policy expert John Logsdon, a professor emeritus at George Washington University.

Saint-Jacques said in September that an air leak at the International Space Station was like a wake-up call to remind astronauts that all the training they go through is useful. "The emergency rescue systems of the MS-Soyuz spacecraft worked smoothly".

Thursday's accident was the first serious launch problem experienced by a manned Soyuz space mission since 1983, when the crew narrowly escaped before an explosion on the launchpad. Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov jettisoned and landed safely near the launch pad.

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