Astronauts escape malfunctioning Soyuz rocket

Rocket carrying space station crew fails in mid-air, crew forced to make emergency landing

Astronauts escape malfunctioning Soyuz rocket

A Soyuz rocket takes off from Baikonur Cosmodrome. Soyuz is now the only means for crews to travel to and from the station, with commercial crew vehicles by Boeing and SpaceX not expected to be ready to enter service before the middle of 2019.

It comes weeks after a hole was discovered in the International Space Station amid talk from the Russian space authorities of deliberate sabotage.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos's Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled at 4:40 a.m. ET Thursday from the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz booster rocket.

But the members were forced to make an emergency landing after suffering a booster malfunction during launch in Kazakhstan.

"The crew are in good condition and in contact". The capsule jettisoned from the booster and went into a ballistic descent, landing at a sharper than normal angle.

Search and rescue teams are in the air and heading towards the expected touchdown location, Nasa added.

Cosmonaut Alexander Volkov commented: 'The guys are lucky that they remained alive. A Reuters reporter who observed the launch from around 1 km away said it had gone smoothly in its initial stages and that the failure of the booster rockets must have occurred at higher altitude.

They set the trajectory for the flight, and if they aren't running at full capacity could send the rocket in completely the wrong direction.

In 2015, he was selected to participate in a space food taste test, sampling some 160 dishes designed for astronauts and cosmonauts on board the International Space Station.

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