NASA says will use Russia's Soyuz rocket again despite accident

14 October, 2018, 15:34 | Author: Sam Montgomery
  • U.S. astronaut Nick Hague right and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin crew members of the mission to the International Space Station wave as they board the rocket prior to the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome Kazakhs

Two astronauts from the USA and Russia were safe Thursday after an emergency landing in the steppes of Kazakhstan following the failure of a Russian booster rocket carrying them to the International Space Station.

The two astronauts were heading to the International Space Station, but Thursday's launch failed just two minutes after the lift-off.

NASA and Roscosmos said search-and-rescue teams were in contact with the crew and en route to the landing location.

"I fully anticipate that we will fly again on a Soyuz rocket", he said, praising the "wonderful relationship" between Nasa and the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

Russian and NASA officials have both said the International Space Station can be operated without crew for an extended time.

Speaking with reporters in Moscow before Thursday's launch, Bridenstine said that Russian-American cooperation in space remained strong, amid an investigation into the cause of the leak.

Something went wrong during the separation of the booster and the capsule containing the two crew members started tumbling back down to earth, violently shaking the men.

It's been an interesting couple of months for Russia's space program.

USA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin were rescued without injuries in Kazakhstan following the emergency landing earlier Thursday.

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Bridenstine, who is visiting Russia and Kazakhstan for the first time since his appointment as NASA head this year, observed the launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Rogozin.

"We don't have an opportunity to extend it for a long time", said Sergei Krikalyovi, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos' manned programs.

"The station could fly in an unmanned mode, but will do all we can to avoid it", he said.

Thankfully, Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin landed safely, without any injuries, although the ride was quite uncomfortable - to say the least. In public comments about the launch and rescue operations, he said he saw NASA staff come together to support Hague's family after the launch failure. The last one returned to Earth on October 4, carrying NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, after their 197-day mission in space.

Thursday's aborted launch took place in the presence of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine who was visiting Russian Federation and Baikonur this week. "We're thrilled that even though it was a launch failure, all of the safety systems worked".

Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential vote, but they have kept cooperating in space.

"I strongly believe we're going to get the right answer to what caused the hole on the International Space Station and that together we'll be able to continue our strong collaboration", Bridenstine said on a visit to Moscow this week, according to the Associated Press.

While more food and supplies could be sent up to the station, the Soyuz capsule docked there that would take them home has a life expectancy of roughly 200 days in orbit.

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