US, Russia astronauts making emergency landing

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

A Soyuz rocket takes off from Baikonur Cosmodrome.

A Soyuz rocket taking an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut to the International Space Station on Thursday was hit by an engine problem shortly after lift-off, Russian agencies said.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin and flight engineer Tyler "Nick" Hague were scheduled to blast off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:40:15 a.m. EDT (GMT-4; 2:40 p.m. local time), roughly the moment Earth's rotation carries the Soyuz MS-10/56S spacecraft into the plane of the space station's orbit.

Russian news agencies reported that the crew had safely made an emergency landing and were in radio contact and that rescuers were en route to pick them up.

The space agency later tweeted that search and rescue teams were headed to site where the astronauts were expected to land.

After the malfunction they were forced to return to Earth in a process known as a "ballistic re-entry", during which they experienced forces of up to 7G.

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The pair was set to dock at the orbiting outpost six hours after launch, but the booster rocket failed minutes after launch.

Russian and US space officials said that the crew is heading for an emergency landing in Kazakhstan at an unspecified time.

The rocket was carrying US astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin.

Search and rescue teams were heading to the area to recover the crew.

It's the first space mission for Hague, who joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2013.

Ovchinin spent six months on the station in 2016.

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