Russian Federation said Friday it was likely to bring forward the flight of a new manned space mission to the International Space Station but postpone the launch of a cargo ship after a rocket failure that forced two crew members to make an emergency landing.
NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin launched aboard a Soyuz rocket at about 4:47 a.m. EDT (0847 GMT) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Roscosmos, the Russian firm that operates the nation's space agency and is responsible for Soyuz launches, will not hold any news conferences today.
It's obviously worth noting that the Soyuz rocket is a completely separate piece of hardware from the Soyuz crew capsule, and something like the hole found in the crew capsule now attached to the International Space Station couldn't possibly result in a failure of a rocket booster.
NASA and Russian Roscosmos space agency said the astronauts were in good condition after their capsule landed about 20 kilometres east of the city of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. 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.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he expected Russian President Vladimir Putin would be briefed on the incident.
Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin said he was forming a state commission to investigate what caused the failure.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential vote, but they have kept cooperating in space. Russia's space agency Roscosmos said a blocked fuel duct was at fault. Mission control told astronauts aboard the space station that during the landing, "the boys" experienced forces of about 6.7 G in a call that NASA later broadcast on the live commentary. However, this could be a problem for the current ISS crew.
For now, the USA relies on Moscow to carry its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) which was launched 20 years ago.
Russian Federation has continued to rely on Soviet-designed booster rockets for launching commercial satellites, as well as crews and cargo to the International Space Station.
September 27, 1983: A Soyuz rocket that was to carry Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov to a Salyut space station caught fire in the final seconds of the countdown at Baikonur.
Russia, which relies on boosters designed during the Soviet Union, has a reputation for reliability with spacecraft. In 1975, a manned Soyuz failed to separate between stages during an ascent and triggered the abort system. Last month, an oxygen leak was found in the International Space Station that Rogozin said was made deliberately.
An "anomaly" with the booster led to the launch being aborted, NASA later said.