Soyuz rocket crew rescued after emergency landing

The launch of the Soyuz rocket

The Soyuz rocket carrying the two astronauts at liftoff

The space agency said American Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin weren't injured and crews reached them shortly after the booster malfunctioned at an undisclosed altitude 123 seconds into the launch sequence.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Alexei Ovchinin blasted off as scheduled to the International Space Station Thursday, but their Soyuz booster failed two minutes after the launch and the rescue capsule landed safely in the steppes of Kazakhstan.

Footage from inside the rocket show the two men being shaken at the moment the fault occured, their arms and legs flailing.

The rocket was launched was from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 0840 GMT (12.40pm UAE time).

Search and rescue teams scrambled to recover the crew, and paratroopers were dropped to the site.

Hague was born in the same year the United States and the Soviet Union launched their first joint space mission, the Apollo-Soyuz, or Soyuz-Apollo mission in 1975.

"Thank God the crew is alive", said Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin. That triggered a warning light to turn on inside the crew capsule, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman said during a news conference held today. The three-person crew was subjected to gravity forces of about eight times Earth's gravity for up to two minutes. Spacewalks take extensive, long-term planning, so the crew and their teams back on Earth will have to come up with an alternative plan.

Now, American companies SpaceX and Boeing are working to launch their first crewed missions to space.

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The journey was expected to take six hours.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who watched the launch at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome along with his Russian counterpart, tweeted that Hague and Ovchinin are in good condition. There has only ever been one other launch mishap with the Soyuz, in Mongolia in 1975, according to CBS.

Unnamed Russian space industry sources cited by news agencies said it would be hard to establish what had caused the incident because the booster rocket segments involved had been badly damaged in their fall. During the live broadcast of the launch, narration from Mission Control suggested that the booster failed to separate from the Soyuz capsule.

Yuri Kochetkov/Pool via REUTERS Backup crew members Roscosmos cosmonaut Оleg Kononenko (R) and CSA astronaut David Saint Jacques look at the Soyuz booster rocket with the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft installed on the launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Oct. 9, 2018. "A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted", Bridenstine said in a statement.

Relations between the USA and Russian Federation have been very tense in recent years. The agency said the rescue crews were preparing to return them to Moscow, and Roscosmos released still images of the two crew members receiving medical evaluation in Kazakhstan.

Rocket science is always a risky business, which is why crewed capsules and the rockets that launch them carry a variety of systems built in to ensure the safety of those aboard, as the world remembered today.

The International Space Station in orbit above Earth.

Russian space officials have said they are investigating whether a hole that caused an oxygen leak on the ISS was drilled deliberately by astronauts.

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