The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, is investigating why a Soyuz MS-10 malfunctioned today just after takeoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The rocket was carrying Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and US astronaut Nick Hague to the International Space Station.
The rocket, which took off at 2:40 p.m. local time, was roughly 90 seconds into its flight when an alarm notified the crew of a problem with the rocket’s booster. An automated system immediately detached the crew capsule from the rocket, and the astronauts began a ballistic descent — a steep, rapid dive — to Earth.
The capsule landed about 500 kilometres northeast of the launch site in Dzhezhazgan, Kazakhstan. Search-and-rescue teams took the crew to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow for medical attention. Officials with Roscosmos and NASA say both crew members are doing well.
Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin announced on Twitter that the agency would investigate the crash. But details about what the probe will entail or how long it will take remain murky. NASA officials suggested during a press conference that the probe would last at least two to three months.
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov tweeted that Roscosmos will suspend crewed missions until it can guarantee the safety of launches.