A Russian Soyuz rocket malfunctioned two minutes after liftoff Thursday on a mission to the International Space Station. The two-member crew — an American and a Russian parachute landed in their capsule, 200 miles from the launch site in the steppes of Kazakhstan.
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 4:40 a.m. EDT 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.
NASA no longer has a method to get its astronauts to the space station, and the crew that is already on board the ISS has to come down eventually.
SpaceX could be ready to fly its Dragon capsule to the ISS in June, 2019. Boeing could be ready in August, 2019.
Right now, there are three people aboard the station: NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev. These three crew members only have one way to get home: the Russian Soyuz capsule that brought them there in the first place.
Their Soyuz, MS-09, has been docked with the ISS since June 8th, when the crew first arrived. Soyuz capsules are only to remain in orbit for 200 days. The crew would need to come back in December or January.
Russia could launch another empty Soyuz capsule to dock with the International Space Station, helping to extend the time of the current crew on board by another 200 days. Russia is already going through the motions to prepare a Soyuz vehicle and rocket combo for a planned launch of three crew members on December 20th. That is still moving forward and could possibly fly. The Soyuz rocket may be grounded from sending crew to the ISS, but the vehicle might be able to launch a capsule without crew as a test. Then, it could dock with the ISS and provide another lifeboat for the crew on board.