World

Astronauts make emergency landing after rocket malfunction

Two astronauts from the US and Russia are safe after an emergency landing in the steppes of Kazakhstan, following the failure of a Russian booster rocket carrying them to the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled from the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz booster rocket.

Roscosmos and NASA said the three-stage Soyuz booster suffered an emergency shutdown of its second stage. The capsule jettisoned from the booster and went into a ballistic descent, landing at a sharper than normal angle.

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster carrying the Soyuz MS-10 blasts off for the International Space Station.

The launch failure marks an unprecedented mishap for the Russian space program, which has been dogged by a string of launch failures and other incidents.

"Thank God, the crew is alive," Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters when it became clear that the crew had landed safely.

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

Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos (left) and Nick Hague of NASA (right) in front of the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft.

NASA and Russian Roscosmos space agency said the astronauts were in good condition after their capsule landed about 20 kilometres east of the city of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

Search and rescue teams were heading to the area to recover the crew.

Dzhezkazgan is about 450 kilometres northeast of Baikonur. Spacecraft returning from the ISS normally land in that region.

External Link: NASA tweet: Search and rescue teams are in the air and heading towards the expected touchdown location for the Soyuz spacecraft returning to Earth carrying two crew members.

AP

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