US, Russian astronauts blast off to space station

Jan Cross
October 11, 2018

A Soyuz rocket takes off from Baikonur Cosmodrome.

A capsule carrying the crew of a Russian Soyuz rocket that malfunctioned on lift-off has landed safely in Kazakhstan, Russian media report.

NASA rookie Nick Hague and second-time flyer Aleksey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency blasted off for the orbital lab from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 0840 GMT.

Rockets use boosters to provide the thrust they need to launch from Earth and breech the atmosphere.

They were to dock at the International Space Station six hours later, but the booster suffered engine failure minutes after the launch.

"The crewmembers of Expedition 57 will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the International Space Station, humanity's only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory", NASA officials said in a statement.

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NASA had issued a worrying tweet on Thursday morning saying: 'There's been an issue with the booster from today's launch.

Search and rescue teams were heading to the area to recover the crew.

"Search and rescue teams are en route to the landing location and we await further updates".

IFAX reported that the two astronauts were alive and were expected to land in Kazakhstan.

Ovchinin, 47, is a major in the Russian Air Force who made his first spaceflight in 2016.

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