Russian news agencies reported that booster rockets carrying the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft on a mission headed for the International Space Station failed mid-air, forcing the crew to abort the flight and make the landing.
NASA’s Nick Hague, flying for the first time, and Aleksey Ovchinin of Roscosmos blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan just before 10am.
They made an emergency landing in Kazakhstan, with both crew members live and talking to mission control, and not in need of medical attention.
Speaking on NTV, cosmonaut Alexander Volkov commented: “The guys are lucky that they remained alive.
“They had a good height so it was possible to descend in their capsule.”
Interface reported all capsule rescue system, landing engines and parachutes had worked normally.
A statement issued by NASA said: “The Soyuz MS-10 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 4:40 a.m. EDT Thursday, October 11 (2:40 pm in Baikonur).
“Shortly after launch, there was an issue with the booster.
“Teams have confirmed the spacecraft separated from the booster and are in contact with the crew as the capsule returns in a ballistic decent mode.”
A subsequent statement said: “The Soyuz capsule has landed back on Earth carrying two crew members.
“The crew are in good condition and in contact.
“Search and rescue teams are en route to the landing location and we await further updates.”
Roscosmos tweeted: “During the launch of the ship # SoyuzMS10, an abnormal situation occurred.
“The emergency rescue system worked, the ship landed in Kazakhstan along the flight route.
“The crew of the ship is alive and got in touch!
“Rescuers have already moved to the search and evacuation of Alexei Ovchinin and Nick Haig (sic).”
Russian website Sputnik said rescue teams had reported seeing a parachute descending with the craft.
Citing Russian military sources, it said four Mi-8 helicopters had been seen heading for the landing site via Kazakh airports.
RIA news agency, citing its own source, has reported that Russia had decided to suspend all manned space launches after the Soyuz failure.
Nasa’s live feed providing details about the rescue operation can be viewed here
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(Additional reporting by Will Stewart)