Science

Soyuz Rocket Carrying US Astronaut, Russian Cosmonaut Fails During Launch, Crew Falling Back to Earth


A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying a new U.S.-Russian crew to the International Space Station failed during its ascent Thursday (Oct. 11) , sending its crew capsule falling back toward Earth in a ballistic re-entry, NASA officials said. NASA has confirmed it is in contact with the crew aboard the capsule and that they are in good condition, and says it will take about an hour and a half for a rescue crew to meet up with the astronauts.

The Soyuz rocket and its Soyuz MS-10 space capsule lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at about 4:47 a.m. EDT (0847 GMT) with NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin aboard. The pair were due to join the three-person Expedition 57 crew already aboard the International Space Station. But something went wrong minutes after liftoff, sending the Soyuz capsule into a ballistic re-entry, NASA officials said.

"Confirming again that the today's Soyuz MS10 launch did go into a ballistic re-entry mode a little bit after its launch around 3:47 a.m Central Time (4:47 a.m. EDT/0847 GMT)," NASA spokesperson Brandi Dean said during live television commentary. "That means the crew will not be going to the International Space Station today. Instead they'll be taking a sharp landing, coming back to Earth." NASA is providing live commentary on NASA TV, which you can watch here

"Search and rescue crews are always pre-staged in the event something like this does happen," Dean added. Helicopters have already dispatched to look for the Soyuz space capsule, she said.

A Soyuz capsule carrying two astronauts lifted off at 4:39 a.m. EDT on Oct. 11, 2018, before a failure later in the launch sequence.

A Soyuz capsule carrying two astronauts lifted off at 4:39 a.m. EDT on Oct. 11, 2018, before a failure later in the launch sequence.

Credit: NASA TV

NASA has not provided much detail about the failure, but confirmed in a tweet that there was a problem with booster separation. Dean later confirmed the anomaly during live commentary. During the live broadcast of the launch, narration from Mission Control suggested that the booster failed to separate from the Soyuz capsule.

Had the launch gone smoothly, Ovchinin and Hague would have reached the space station later today. The Soyuz was scheduled to fly a shortened, six-hour flight trajectory that would have orbited the Earth four times before reaching the International Space Station.

This story will be updated as more information is available. 

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us @Spacedotcom and Facebook. Original article on Space.com.

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