Space Crew Announced Safe As it Plunged Towards Earth After Russian Rocket Fails
On Thursday, a two-man US-Russian space crew of a Soyuz spacecraft which was set to travel for the International Space Station was announced safe after a dramatic emergency landing, shortly after liftoff in Kazakhstan, when their rocket failed to fly mid-air.
Nick Hague, a US astronaut, and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin both landed safely and were located by the rescue crews who looked for them as fast as they could on the Kazakh steppe. They quickly met up with them, according to the statement released by the US space agency NASA and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.
The emergency took place when the booster rocket’s first and second stages separated separated just minutes after the launch from Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur.
The Soyuz capsule which carried two men two men separated from the malfunctioning rocket and made a “steep ballistic descent to Earth”. The good news is that the parachutes were deemed helpful in slowing its speed.
According to NASA, the parachute helped, it took the space capsule at least 34 minutes to reach the ground after it separated from the malfunctioned rocket.
“That was a quick flight,” said Ovchinin, the Russian cosmonaut.
Roscosmos later released photographs taken by the rescuers. It depicted the two astronauts smiling and relaxing on sofas at a town nearby their landing site as they underwent some medical tests.
According to sources, Moscow immediately suspended all manned space launches, while Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said he ordered a state commission to investigate what had gone wrong in the space ship. Russia’s Investigative Committee said it opened a criminal investigation.
“We have a lot of things planned through the rest of the fall and the winter, and that’s all just being reassessed right now. We have resources well into next year for this crew, so there’s no concern about resources on board,” said Sam Scimemi, NASA’s director for International Space Station.
“A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted as the safety of the crew is the utmost priority for NASA,” said Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator.
Rogozin wrote on Twitter, “Rescue services have been working since the first second of the accident. The emergency rescue systems of the MS-Soyuz spacecraft worked smoothly. The crew has been saved.”
The next re-supply run was supposed to take place on October 31, the source added. However, that plan is now on hold since the progress supply ship was launched the same kind of rocket used in Thursday’s incident.
Rogozin said at the time that the problem with the launch of the 2.6 billion-rouble ($39.02 million) satellite was due to an embarrassing programming error.
“What we usually do is one group comes up and another group comes down just as part of our regular crew rotation,” NASA spokeswoman Kathryn Hambleton said.
Thursday’s accident was the first serious launch problem that NASA had experienced by a manned Soyuz space mission since 1983, when a spave crew member narrowly escaped the launchpad before an explosion happened.