NASA astronaut, Russian cosmonaut make emergency landing on earth

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Booster rockets carrying a Soyuz spacecraft with a Russian and a US astronaut on board headed for the International Space Station failed mid-air on Thursday, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing, Russian news agencies reported.

Ovchinin and USA astronaut Nick Hague had blasted off on a Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Russian news reports indicated that one of its four first-stage engines might have failed to jettison in sync with others, resulting in the second stage's shutdown and activating the automatic emergency rescue system. The crew has now touched down in Kazakhstan, where they are being attended by search and rescue personnel. -Russian cooperation in space.

The hole was detected in August and quickly sealed up, but Russian newspapers said Roscosmos was probing the possibility that USA crewmates had sabotaged the space station to get a sick colleague sent back home. It also was the first such accident for Russia's manned program in over three decades. The module lands at a steeper angle than they would in a normal landing. Such a landing is created to decelerate rapidly to bring the astronauts back to the ground, meaning it takes a steep angle of descent and can put the astronauts under extreme gravitational forces, up to eight times normal gravity, as Joe Pappalardo at Popular Mechanics reports. Ovchinin and Hague were both traveling to the ISS to join the three astronauts now aboard - Gerst, NASA's Serena Auñón-Chancellor, and Roscosmos' Sergey Prokopyev.

In statements by both Russian Federation and NASA the crew is said to be in "good condition", and no serious injuries have been reported.

Wiseman said the only thing that went through his mind was "I hope they get down safe".

A NASA statement on the aborted launch stated: "NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA team are monitoring the situation carefully".

A state commission set up by Roscosmos to investigate the cause of the incidence is already hard at work assessing telemetry.

Watch live updates from NASA here.

In recent years, Russia's space programme has faced a number of technical failures - 13 since 2010. The agency is waiting for both Boeing and SpaceX to deliver home-grown spacecraft so it no longer has to rely on Russian Federation to send supplies and crew to the ISS.

Hague is a colonel in the Air Force.

It was the first space mission for Hague, who joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2013.

The booster rocket carrying a Soyuz spacecraft with a Russian and U.S. astronaut on board headed for the International Space Station failed mid-air on Thursday, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing.

Ovchinin was heading to space for the second time, having previously served aboard the station.

Three astronauts are now living in the ISS. Instead, they were picked up by helicopters and then flown by a plane back to Baikonur.

NASA confirmed the crew had landed safely back on earth at 8.23pm (AEST).

There was no immediate word on whether the space station crew might need to extend its own six-month mission.

They were scheduled to remain up there until mid-December.

The use of ballistic descent has proved controversial in the past, raising questions over the safety of the Soyuz rocket. That vehicle has a limited life span and expires in early January. Today's vehicle type, a Soyuz-FG rocket, is the only design now certified to carry humans. That would be a huge change for an outpost that has been continuously occupied for about 18 years, but it's something that NASA and its global partners have always been prepared to do, if necessary.

"Scary, scary, scary - not what we wanted", one family member said.

He also notes that critical systems are created to operate automatically or with the help of controllers on the ground.

"All of the systems that were there in case of a rocket failure worked".

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