Astronaut, Cosmonaut Safe After Abort During Launch To Station

Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, left, and Flight Engineer Nick Hague of NASA, right. embrace their families after landing at the Krayniy Airport, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Hague and Ovchinin arrived from Zhezkazgan after Russian Search and Rescue teams brought them from the Soyuz landing site. During the Soyuz TM-10 spacecraft’s climb to orbit, an anomaly occurred, resulting in an abort downrange. The crew was quickly recovered and is in good condition. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

October 11, 2018 – American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are resting comfortably in the city of Baikonur, Kazakhstan, after an anomaly occurred shortly after their launch.

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 2:40 a.m. MDT Thursday, October 11 (2:40 p.m. in Baikonur time) carrying Hague and Ovchinin. Shortly after launch, there was an anomaly with the booster, and the launch ascent was aborted, resulting in a ballistic landing of the spacecraft.

Search and rescue teams deployed to the landing site, arriving on location before the spacecraft landed. Hague and Ovchinin were recovered from the capsule and were in good condition. The crew landed south of the city of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, and was transported by helicopter to the nearby city. A Roscosmos plane then flew the pair to Baikonur, where they were greeted on the tarmac by their families, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin, and other NASA and Roscosmos officials.

Hague and Ovchinin were taken to a local hospital for precautionary medical checks. They are scheduled to return to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, outside of Moscow, on Friday, October 12. Hague is expected to fly home to Houston next week.

Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), NASA Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Prokopyev, who arrived at the station in June, were informed of the launch abort and are continuing to operate the station and conduct important scientific research.

Roscosmos has formed a commission to assess the root cause of the failure, and NASA will support Roscosmos’ investigation into the incident. In parallel, NASA and the International Space Station partners will review upcoming operational schedules, including the plan for two spacewalks targeted later in October.

In an interview, Bridenstine shared his experience witnessing the launch in Kazakhstan, as well as his admiration for the NASA and Roscosmos teams who demonstrated how well prepared and expert they were in responding to the situation. He also gave high praise to Hague’s wife, Catie, for remaining cool under pressure.

Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said in an interview that he was pleased with his team’s response, and that a Russian commission would work to understand the cause of the failure and continue working with NASA and the rest of the international station partner agencies to support continued station operations.

Kenny Todd, International Space Station operations integration manager, shared his thanks with the Russian search and rescue teams in a news conference on NASA Television, praising their professionalism and expertise in doing their jobs quickly and efficiently to ensure the safety of the crew. He noted the station is well-supplied for the Expedition 57 crew members who are on board. Deputy Chief Astronaut Reid Wiseman noted that the safe return of the crew members is good news, demonstrating that the safety systems worked as designed, and the teams performed as they have practiced, to ensure the safety of Hague and Ovchinin.