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Soyuz rocket carrying crew to ISS malfunctions during launch Almost like Columbia: Two crew members dodge death by an inch in botched Russian space launch
(about 2 hours later)
Less than two minutes after the US-Russian crew blasted off on their mission to the ISS, the Russian Soyuz booster rocket failed mid-air. The crew was forced to put their training to the test and make an emergency landing. A botched launch of the Russian spaceship Soyuz narrowly avoided becoming the latest fatal space incident on Thursday. Rescue systems managed to save the lives of two crew members and conduct an emergency landing.
Expedition 57 was due to transport Roscosmos’ Aleksey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague to the International Space Station in the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft. The Soyuz-MS-10 spacecraft was meant to deliver Roscosmos’ Aleksey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague, members of Expedition 57/58, to the International Space Station (ISS). But 119 seconds after take-off from the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle experienced a malfunction and crew rescue protocols were engaged.
But the booster suffered an apparent malfunction some 119 seconds after liftoff, forcing the crew to make a split second decision to separate from the rocket and quickly abort their space odyssey.
The crew, both alive and unharmed, made a dramatic 'ballistic re-entry' in Kazakhstan. Helicopters were scrambled to the touchdown location of the capsule to get the spacemen out as quickly as possible. The mission went astray just after the booster blocks of the first rocket stage detached. The second stage engines were shut down and seconds later the capsule with the crew members shot away from the rocket, dropped its two other modules, and returned to Earth.
The pair were due to deliver cargo and a Russian-made 3D bio-printer with which scientists were planning to grow human organs and tissue in zero gravity. The emergency landing used a more demanding than usual ballistic descent, but the capsule brought Ovchinin and Hague back alive.
A Russian search and recovery team was sent to the landing site around 20-25km (12-15 miles) from Zhezkazgan, in central Kazakhstan and brought the survivors back to Baikonur by helicopter. The Russian military also deployed paratroopers in the area to facilitate the rescue mission.
The cause of the Soyuz malfunction is yet to be established. It was the first failure for the Soyuz-FG rocket out of the over 60 launches conducted since 2001.
The Soyuz-MS version of the veteran Russian space capsule has been used since 2016. Boost phase abortion incidents like this one have not happened since an April 1975 launch. Another Soyuz spacecraft mission was aborted before launch in 1983.
The 2003 disaster involving the space shuttle Columbia during its return from orbit is the most recent fatal incident in space exploration.
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