Emergency landing for astronauts as rocket fails

Engine problems hit the Russian rocket after lift-off

A US and Russian astronaut are making an emergency landing following a rocket failure on a mission to the International Space Station.

Shortly after lift-off, the Soyuz rocket was reported to have suffered significant engine difficulties which has caused the mission to be aborted.

Despite the failure affecting the booster rocket, the crew members are “alive and set to land in Kazakhstan” Russian media reported.

It is understood that helicopters were sent to locate NASA’s Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin.

Search and rescue teams have confirmed that the pair have now been located and are alive.

Spaceflight historian Gunter Krebs noted on Twitter that the situation reminded him of another Soyuz rocket failure in 1972, when “an inflight booster failured occurred and the crew was rescued after ballistic reentry.”

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Ballistic reentry involves only the forces of gravity and aerodynamic drag, rather than orbital forces helping the returning capsule using orbital forces to slow down the speed of fall.

Malfunctions causing ballistic reentry have occurred a number of times with Russia’s series of Soyuz rockets.

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