Soyuz rocket crew rescued after emergency landing

Cristina Cross
October 13, 2018

United States astronaut Nick Hague, right, and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station wave as they board the rocket prior to the launch.

A Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut were recovered unharmed early Thursday after the Soyuz booster they were aboard on a launch to the International Space Station failed. A Soyuz capsule attached to the station that they use to ride back to Earth is designed for 200 days in space, meaning that their stay in orbit could only be extended briefly. Instead NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin returned to Earth in a ballistic return of their capsule from an altitude of over 30 miles.

Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), NASA Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor, and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Prokopyev-all of whom arrived at the station in June-are continuing to operate the ISS and conduct "important scientific research".

While a Roscosmos-led commission investigates the root cause of this failure, NASA and ISS partners will review upcoming operational schedules, including two planned spacewalks later this month.

Kenny Todd, space station manager at NASA, said that the existing crew can stay on ISS till January and, if Russian Federation doesn't resume the Soyuz launches by that time, the flight controllers can operate the station without anyone onboard.

David Saint-Jacques is scheduled to co-pilot the capsule December 20 and become the first Canadian at the orbiter since now-retired astronaut Chris Hadfield returned to Earth in 2013. The intention was to have them work as a team of five until December, when the three scientists now aboard would return to Earth.

The rocket was carrying U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin.

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Strap-on solid-fuel boosters also can be attached to the rocket for additional liftoff power depending on payload requirements. Unlike the Atlas V rocket that the company now uses, the new rocket will uses engines made in the United States.

The 1975 Soyuz-18-1 mission was much further along in its flight when the abort occurred: just under five minutes, amid the rocket's second and third stage separation.

With the failure of this launch, there are far-reaching consequences for the world's human space programs, and for those astronauts and cosmonauts now on board the International Space Station.

We'll see what happens from here, but there are still a lot of questions to answer. Russian Federation has launched an investigation and suspended all launches of manned spacecraft until the probe is complete. Should the "pumps do their job, and all the other systems - the [solar] arrays to continue to rotate, and we keep the batteries charged - there's nothing that says we can't continue".

Saint-Jacques spent time in a Soyuz capsule in August, as part of a disaster training simulation. Space is one of the few areas where the USA and Russia are still actively collaborating, but recent events are putting into question the Russian space industry's capacity to meet today's rigorous standards.

The technology used in the Soyuz, and numerous Russian rockets as well, is considered old, but exceedingly reliable. The hole cause a small oxygen leak while hooked up to the ISS. "We are planning their flight for the spring of next year".

Rogozin said at the time that the problem with the launch of the 2.6 billion-rouble ($39.02 million) satellite had been due to an embarrassing programming error. -Russian cooperation continuing despite geopolitical tensions.

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