A Soyuz crew makes an emergency landing after rocket fails

Selfie of Mars Curiosity rover

Cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague were forced to conduct an emergency landing on Thursday after their rocket suffered a malfunction shortly after take-off. Before today, the last failure was the 1983 Soyuz T-10a mission. That in turn had hindered the separation of the first stage of the rocket from its second stage. Soyuz crews usually pull about 4Gs during reentry (four times the force of gravity), but a ballistic trajectory can more than double that. The accident has caused all launches of the Soyuz-FG rocket that are now planned to be put on hold until the exact cause of the failure becomes clear. It was also possible that the first stage parts had failed to separate properly, he said.

Appearing at times emotional, he said he was "confident" a new manned mission to the International Space Station would go ahead as planned in December, praising the "wonderful relationship" between the Russian and U.S. space agencies. A state commission has been established to investigate the incident.

But NASA TV reports that astronaut Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin are "in good condition" after a booster problem resulted in their Soyuz spacecraft making an unexpected, sharp return to Earth. Preliminary findings are expected later this month.

Soyuz is one of the oldest rocket designs but also one of the safest.

They were set to join the crew of Alexander Gerst, the station's first-ever German commander, as well as US astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev. "They might need different skills now", he said in a Periscope video. The station is now stocked with sufficient supplies for six months and can be re-supplied by unmanned cargo ships.

"He's supremely ready to go, and he'll go as soon as the rocket's ready", Hadfield said.

U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin were rescued without injuries in Kazakhstan.

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"We have a lot of things planned through the rest of the fall and the winter, and that's all just being reassessed right now", Sam Scimemi, NASA's director for International Space Station, told Reuters.

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin has raised wide consternation by saying that the leak was a drill hole that was made intentionally during manufacturing or in orbit. These "guys will fly", he said in a tweet, in which he posted a photo of himself with the astronauts.

"Rescue services have been working since the first second of the accident", Rogozin wrote on Twitter.

Since NASA retired its space shuttle in 2011, the Russian Soyuz has been the only space vehicle capable of sending astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). Roscosmos sent more than 70 rocket engines back to production lines to replace faulty components.

All Russian manned space launches have been suspended after the incident, according to Russia's RIA news agency.

Russia's TASS news agency said the capsule carrying the two men separated from the troubled rocket safely. Russia's Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal investigation into the matter.

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