Rocket Headed for International Space Station Aborts After Launcher Failure

Selfie of Mars Curiosity rover

Everything had been going quite smoothly for Roscosmos ahead of the freaky hole discovered in one of their Soyuz spacecraft which was (and still is) attached to the International Space Station.

The capsule landed about 20km (12 miles) east of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

What happened during the flight?

Just over two minutes into the flight of the latest Soyuz rocket, delivering crew members to the International Space Station, the booster suffered some kind of in-flight accident, as debris was spotted in the rocket's wake during live coverage of the launch.

The Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities known as Roscosmos had earlier tweeted pictures of the astronauts taking their place in the rocket.

"The Soyuz capsule is returning to Earth via a ballistic descent, which is a sharper angle of landing compared to normal". Both are reported to be in good condition.

How have the crew fared?

The two astronauts-US astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin-were reported to say they felt "weightlessness" as the crew capsule detached. NASA purchased seats aboard Soyuz capsules for access to the ISS following the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011. The image shows them sitting on a couch, hooked up to blood pressure monitors and oxygen monitors.

If the Russian rocket isn't flying by then, the station may have to do without a crew for a while. A photograph posted on Twitter by NASA showed Ovchinin and Hague embracing their families after being transported back to the Baikonur site. The escape systems are tested and ready for exactly this sort of eventuality.

Returning to Earth in a Soyuz capsule is no walk in the park on a good day.

However, SpaceX's rocket program, just like Boeing's, has run into delays, as is often the case in the aerospace industry. The two other serious launch incidents occurred in 1975 and 1983, respectively.

What does this mean for future Soyuz missions?

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He rejected suggestions it could harm United States relations, saying they recognised it was a "hi-tech industry linked to risk", but he added: "We certainly won't hide the reasons, it is uncommon for such situations".

However, the Thursday case involves a manned vehicle, "so there's much stricter requirements in investigations", Seedhouse told AFP.

Hague, who only joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2013, was on his first space mission.

"The crew has landed".

Roscosmos say they are forming a commission to investigate the launch failure.

Have there been similar incidents in the past?

Hague was born in the same year the U.S. and the Soviet Union launched their first joint space mission, the Apollo-Soyuz, or Soyuz-Apollo mission in 1975. "The crew's safety systems worked".

The Russian space program has suffered several failures in recent years.

And in November past year, Roscosmos lost contact with a newly-launched weather satellite - the Meteor-M - after it blasted off from Russia's new Vostochny cosmodrome in the Far East. Russia's Investigative Committee said it opened a criminal investigation into the matter.

One of the most serious but non-fatal USA incidents involved Apollo 13 - a mission to the Moon in 1970. A Falcon 9 exploded later in 2016 before it had even launched. The crew were able to carry out repairs and return to Earth six days later.

But while crewed missions have in general been proceeding according to plan, the Russians have struggled recently with cargo missions and with the infamous small air leak aboard the space station in August.

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