Astronauts make emergency landing as engine fails on Soyuz rocket

Two astronauts kept ice cool as their rocket malfunctioned while travelling at thousands of miles an hour on the edge of space wile carrying them to the International Space Station, cockpit audio reveals.

US and Russian space officials said the astronauts were in good condition even though they experienced a gravitational force that was six-to-seven times more than is felt on Earth when their capsule went into a steep, harrowing fall back to the ground.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said, "Thank God the crew is alive" after they had landed safely.

ISS operations integration manager Kenny Todd described the incident as a "major anomaly" and said he had "every confidence our Russian colleagues will figure out what's going on".

Russian officials said all manned space flight missions would be suspended until investigators figure out what went wrong.

The current ISS crew of Auñón-Chancellor, Gerst, and Prokopyev is scheduled to return to Earth in December.

In 2008, Expedition 16 crew experienced a similar steep ballistic descent on return from the ISS as did cosmonauts returning from the Salyut space station in 1979.

Russian space agency Roscosmos confirmed several minutes later that Hague and Ovchinin had been forced to abort the launch and escape the failing booster in the Soyuz capsule.

The mishap occurred as the first and second stages of a Russian rocket separated shortly after the launch from Kazakhstan's Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur.

With the failure of this launch, there are far-reaching consequences for the world's human space programs, and for those astronauts and cosmonauts now on board the International Space Station. As you can see from video of the NASA livestream, early reports indicate that the booster failed minutes after liftoff.

"We can both do more in space together than we can do alone", he said, adding his relationship with Russian space agency chief Rogozin was "very solid".

United States and Russian space officials said the astronauts were in good condition after enduring gravitational force that was six-to-seven times more than is felt on Earth.

We can talk all we want about the future of space travel in light of the failure, but at the end of the day, this is a human story about two people who came way too close to dying in space Thursday.

Two astronauts have arrived at the Russian space centre for medical checks following a failed launch that led to an emergency landing in Kazakhstan.

A NASA statement on the aborted launch stated: "NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA team are monitoring the situation carefully".

The Soyuz system has a long history of reliable launches.

This morning's emergency landing, however, reached 6.7Gs, according to The Verge, while a normal controlled descent only hits about 4Gs.

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft is now the only vehicle for ferrying crews to the International Space Station following the retirement of the US space shuttle fleet.

  • Joe Gonzales