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MOSCOW — U.S. and Russian astronauts were forced to make an emergency landing Thursday after their booster rocket failed in mid-air moments after the launch, according to NASA.
The agency said search-and-rescue teams had reached the landing site in Kazakhstan and reported that the two crew members were out of the capsule and in “good condition.”
Astronaut Nick Hague of NASA and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency were en route to the International Space Station when there was an issue with their booster rocket.
The pair had taken off as scheduled at 2:40 p.m. local time (4:40 a.m. ET) Thursday from the Russia-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz booster rocket.
“There was an issue with the booster from today’s launch,” NASA said in a statement on its website. “The Soyuz capsule returned to earth via a ballistic descent, which is a sharper angle of landing compared to normal.”
The agency said the capsule landed east of the city of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan in Central Asia.
Russian agency Interfax said there was an “emergency shutdown of second-stage engines” when the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft launched.
NASA said that the Russian space agency is forming a state commission to investigate the incident.
Thursday was the first space mission for Hague, who joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 2013. Ovchinin spent six months on the International Space Station in 2016.
Elena Holodny reported from Moscow; Saphora Smith, Tony Brown, Carolin Sri-Narayana and Nick Bailey from London.