Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Soyuz makes emergency landing after engine problem

Theresa Hayes | 12 October, 2018, 00:24

NASA rookie Nick Hague and second-time flyer Aleksey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency were setting off for a six-month mission at the International Space Station Thursday, on a relatively rare two-man launch.

Russia's Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying the members of the International Space Station blasts off to the ISS from the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Baikonur on October 11, 2018.

The two crew members, Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and American astronaut Nick Hague, are in good health, officials say. Cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov separated the capsule and landed safely near the launchpad.

Search and rescue forces were scrambled from Baikonur Cosmodrome to the expected landing site, a journey of roughly one and a half hours.

In 1975, a crewed Soyuz rocket suffered an in-flight failure, causing an abort 295 sec. after launch. This was Ovchinin's second trip to the station, and Hague's first trip.

The launch failure raises questions about the continued reliability of Russia's Soyuz launch system, which lost a cargo spacecraft at the end of 2016 and sent a Soyuz capsule with a hole in it to the ISS earlier this year.

The International Space Station - a rare point of cooperation between Moscow and Washington - has been orbiting the Earth since 1998.

The US now only has access to the space station via Russia's Soyuz rocket, which is normally dependable.

Hague and Ovchinin were travelling to the ISS to join three other crewmates for ISS Expedition 57.

In August, however, the detection of a minute pressure leak on the International Space Station became the subject of intense media speculation in Russian Federation. "Teams are working with our Russian partners to obtain more information about the issue with the booster from today's launch", the U.S. agency said.

A Russian "state commission" has been formed to investigate the rocket failure. Helicopters have already dispatched to look for the Soyuz space capsule, she said.

NASA has not provided much detail about the failure, but confirmed in a tweet that there was a problem with booster separation. Instead, they will be taking a sharp land coming back to Earth.

"An investigative group has been formed and officials are now examining the launch site, documents are being seized", the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Now, American companies SpaceX and Boeing are working to launch their first crewed missions to space. Neither NASA or Roscosmos will be jumping to any conclusions, but Russian Federation has promised a full investigation and is forming a team to look into how and why the rocket failed as it did.