MOSCOW – Two astronauts on a Soyuz spacecraft were forced to perform an emergency landing and return to Earth on Thursday shortly after launching from the leased Russian Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan after booster rockets on the capsule suffered a failure, officials said.
The MS-10, the 139th flight of a Soyuz spacecraft, launched at 8:40 am for expedition 57-58 with American astronaut, Nick Hague, and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin on-board and had been scheduled to dock on the International Space Station at 12:40 pm.
“There’s been an issue with the booster from today’s launch. Teams have been in contact with the crew,” NASA said on its Twitter page.
Russian official sources said the astronauts were rescued from the capsule, which made an emergency landing on a Kazakh steppe 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Jezkazgan, Kazakhstan.
Following a quick medical check-up which revealed no major injuries to the astronauts, they were then transferred to a hospital for a more in-depth examination.
Hague and Ovchinin were on route to the ISS when the capsule carrying the crew was ejected and returned to Earth in “ballistic descent mode,” NASA said on its Twitter page.