An American and a Russian spaceflier are in good shape after they were forced to abort their trip to the International Space Station due to a rocket anomaly, but today’s scary launch has cast a pall over orbital operations going forward.
NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin were due to begin a six-month stint in orbit with their launch from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, aboard a Soyuz spacecraft that was perched atop Russia’s workhorse Soyuz-FG rocket. But just minutes after liftoff at 2:40 p.m. local time (1:40 a.m. PT), the rocket booster experienced an anomaly, and the ascent was aborted.
Video showed the booster breaking up at high altitude. The Soyuz spacecraft was thrown clear of the rocket and plunged back to Earth for a ballistic landing, with peak acceleration estimated at 6 to 7 G’s. After a nail-biting interval, a search and rescue team located the craft and retrieved Hague and Ovchinin in good condition.
NASA said the pair would be flown back to Russia’s Star City cosmonaut center, outside Moscow, for further examination and debriefing.
“Safety of the crew is the utmost priority for NASA,” the space agency said in a statement. “A thorough ...